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Smart Home

Klug Home will turn your router into a smart home hub

Klug Home claims it will turn your router into the most integrated smart home hub yet.

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Klug Home looks like a simple USB drive, but it plugs into your router and transforms it into a smart home hub.

Intraix

Making a connected household is one thing, but getting all the devices in your home talking to each other in a meaningful way is where the smart home ideal often breaks down. The challenge only grows once you throw in industry competition and a patchwork of company partnerships. But a small device, seeking funding through Indiegogo and developed by Singapore startup Intraix, claims it has a solution.

Klug Home looks like a small USB drive, but instead of plugging into your laptop or TV, it connects to your Wi-Fi router. From there it coordinates all sorts of devices, from wearables to smart home tech. And the kicker is, when it lands in October, it will integrate Google's Nest, Amazon's Echo, Apple's HomeKit, and a bunch of gadgets besides -- all for the low price of $109 (roughly £75 or AU$140). If it works, it could be a must-buy dongle for smart home aficionados. Of course, as usual with crowd-funded tech, that's a big if.

Klug Home (pronounced "kloog," from the German word for "smart") is notable for a few reasons. First off, it cleverly turns your router into a smart home hub, like SmartThings or Lowe's Iris. Hubs translate the low-energy communication protocols of smart home devices into a language your phone can understand, and vice versa. While Klug Home certainly can't speak every language, it does work with Zigbee -- one of the most common protocols.

Intraix hopes to do more than provide another hub and app, though. Klug Home will learn patterns of use over time to see how individual devices are activated in the context of other devices. Although Intraix shared few details about the learning algorithm they plan to employ, Klug Home is clearly meant to be a lifestyle smart home integration device, not simply another gadget that coordinates your recipes from the Web service If This Then That (IFTTT).

Between its Wi-Fi and Zigbee communication, Klug Home could compete with other smart hubs. What sets it apart, though, is which major platforms it will integrate. Intraix says Klug will work with HomeKit, Amazon Echo, Nest and IFTTT, among others.

Unifying those platforms could mean making adjustments to your Nest Thermostat with Siri, or getting a Zigbee flood sensor to alert you through Echo. Klug would be the first to bridge the gap between some of these large platforms, and that potential is huge.

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Klug Home will make a number of large platforms, such as HomeKit and Nest, work together.

Intraix

Such ambitious claims pique my skepticism as much as my interest. For devices to work with the HomeKit platform, they must receive hardware certification from Apple. Intraix plans to bypass this requirement by connecting the Klug Home app to other HomeKit devices, rather than connecting the devices directly. Whether this will affect latency or reliability remains to be seen, especially since third-party HomeKit apps have been such a mixed bag.

In addition, Klug Home doesn't work with Bluetooth devices, which make up a large number of smart home gadgets -- connected locks in particular. For a device attempting to unify the smart home, this is a major hole.

Intraix's vision of seamless integration despite industry divides is exciting. It's cool to imagine my Fitbit or phone telling my vents and thermostat that I'm 5 minutes from home after a morning run. An integration system that learns your preferences as you live in your home -- that's a dream scenario for anyone who's spent hours trying to make two devices play nice. I'll believe it when I see it.

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