BERLIN -- After finding success making smart thermostats for European homes, German startup Tado is expanding to the US. The product making its way across the pond isn't a thermostat, but rather, a $199 Wi-Fi accessory for nonconnected air conditioner units. Place Tado in the air conditioner's line of sight, and it'll command the unit using the same infrared connection the remote uses. From there, you'll be able to control it remotely through Tado's app on Android, iOS or Windows devices, or program it to turn on and off automatically at specific times, or as you come and go.
The device was on full display at the IFA tech conference in Germany, where Tado announced it'd soon be getting its own channel on , the popular online automation service. That opens the door for crafty home automation enthusiasts to sync their air conditioners up with .
Small, flat and white, Tado looks a bit like a newfangled thermostat, complete with attractive LED animations and touch button controls. You can mount it to the wall or sit it on a shelf, just so long as it stays plugged in and in direct sight of your AC unit.
To track your comings and goings, Tado pairs with your phone via Wi-Fi. You can connect multiple people with a single Tado -- when it detects that the last person has left, it'll shut the air off. When it senses the first person coming home, it'll turn the air on again. If needed, you can override these automated decisions in the app by switching into manual mode and dialing the temperature up and down yourself. You can also continue to use your air conditioner the old-fashioned way, or by tapping on Tado's touchscreen.
All in all, it's a pretty appealing gadget, especially for anyone who's interested in smart climate control but unable or unwilling to replace their thermostat.have cost around $300 or more -- purchase Tado and hook it up with the air conditioner you've already got, and you'll be getting much of the same functionality for less. Of course, it won't work if your air conditioner doesn't have an infrared remote.
It'll also need to compete with established players in the US smart cooling market, including other startups with similar strategies, too. The fact that Tado is already fairly well-established in Europe should help, as they've had plenty of time to refine the software based on user feedback., the and the . None of those work directly with window AC units, though, so perhaps Tado is playing it smart by staking out fresh turf. Of course, it'll need to fend off competition from
You can find Tado for sale on Amazon and at retailers like Best Buy, B&H and soon at Home Depot, as well. We plan on testing one out for ourselves in the near future -- we'll let you know how it does with a full review.
For more from IFA 2015, check out CNET's complete coverage.