Look out, Belkin: SAM's upping the smart plug ante

With a built-in environmental sensors, smart USB ports, and promises of IFTTT-compatibility, these crowdfunded plugs could put some pressure on WeMo.

Ry Crist Senior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
Expertise Smart home technology and wireless connectivity Credentials
  • 10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
Ry Crist
2 min read


We've seen plenty of competition emerge for Belkin's WeMo line of simple home automation switches , but new challengers from Campbell, Calif.-based start-up SensePlug.io have me especially intrigued. Debuting today on Kickstarter, SensePlug.io's SAM devices promise smarter smart home management, with a WeMo-like plug for $49 and a connected power strip for $109 (or less, if you catch the limited early-bird discounts).

Like the WeMo Switch, both SAM products communicate with your phone via Wi-Fi and offer remote control and local automation through a dedicated app, along with the promise of integration with IFTTT, a popular automation service.


Where the SAM products set themselves apart is the addition of built-in environmental sensors capable of tracking motion, light, and temperature. With just one $49 SAM plug, you'll be able to turn a lamp on automatically when it gets dark, or turn an air conditioner on when it gets too hot. WeMo Switches can't do that -- at least not on their own.

On top of that, the SAM plug and power strip will both track energy consumption, allowing you to program your appliances to turn off once they've consumed a certain amount of energy. Belkin's WeMo Insight Switch offers the same power-tracking functionality -- but at $59, it's more expensive than SAM's Kickstarter price, and it doesn't have those extra sensors.


As for the $109 SAM power strip, it boasts three smart outlets and two smart USB ports capable of sending you notifications when your devices are fully charged. This puts it ahead of the less expensive Quirky Pivot Power Genius , which only offers two smart outlets and zero USB ports, and way ahead of Belkin, which doesn't offer a connected power strip at all.

One thing to note -- like the recently-previewed Orbnext color-changing LED cube , SensePlug.io might be jumping the gun by promising IFTTT support at this point. Products and services can't apply for dedicated IFTTT channels until they're available to the general public, and both SAM devices aren't expected to start shipping to backers until November.

SensePlug SAM iOS app concept
Concept mock-ups of SAM's iOS app. SensePlug.io

Still, the team at SensePlug.io tells me that they're optimistic about their future with IFTTT, and, even beyond IFTTT integration, claim that they offer robust "if-this-then-that" style automation directly through their own app, thanks to those integrated environmental triggers.

Both SAM devices will be available to Kickstarter backers through June 15, when the campaign comes to a close. Given that Belkin's already facing new competition from companies like D-Link, it'll be interesting to see what comes next should SensePlug.io hit their funding goals -- and more importantly, deliver on the lofty promise of a better smart plug.