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Lights, power, action! Smartplugs with a twist

Lee D Silver badge

Am I the only one that thinks that the listing of features is actually just more worthless features and provides nothing of real value?

There's no reason these things can't be small enough to fit into a slightly-more-bulky-than-usual ordinary 13A user-wireable plug. Pass-through plugs just don't work well with UK plugs if they want to be safe. But a plug you could put onto anything yourself? That's more interesting.

The scheduling and other "features"? I expect that for free with such a device. It's basically nothing more than a bog-standard bit of code inside the existing bits of code it must already have in order to talk to your phone.

The motion-detection junk? It just screams gimmick. You'll use it once and then never touch it again. I can't think why you'd want something to do that. It's like keyless car entry - you still have to walk up to the bloody thing to get in it, so what have you saved except exposing a digital interface to the airwaves?

But I have bought a "smart" plug. Several of them. They do interesting things. It just works in reverse. It texts me when the power goes off. It texts me when the temperature in the server room drops too quickly or below a certain level. If it could text me when power draw exceeded an expected level, or dropped to zero, that would be handy too. Those things are parts of UPS systems, so they exist, but mine is just a GSM power monitor.

Combine that with remote on/off and, gosh, it could be useful to power-cycle a machine. Prime audience to sell smart plugs to? Geeks. Prime audience who would want to know about a power-cut, or a server being told to shutdown instead of reboot (whoops, did that myself a few weeks ago, embarrassing night-time work visit to press a power button!) remote control their Christmas lights, etc.? Geeks.

Make it wifi and solve all those "you must carry your smartphone near it" problems. In fact, make it a wifi repeater too. Make it talk powerline Ethernet too.

Or how about a plug that can have a camera on the back of it? Instant in-home CCTV. Why not put an I2C bus with a standard plug (e.g. headphone socket) on it and provide a range of modules? Water alarm for when the tumble dryer leaks? Temperature sensor for indoor/outdoor temperature monitoring? While you're there, it could also contain a speaker and actually be used for something practical - an instant doorbell, for instance, or music that follows you around the house (rather than a light, but you could do that too), or a voice alarm for any of the other sensors in the entire house plugged in in a similar way.

X10 is good.

GSM power monitors are good.

Remote control power plugs are good.

Wifi extenders are good.

Temperature / humidity monitors are good.

Portable speakers are good.

Hidden CCTV in fake PIRs etc. are good.

PIR-controlled plugs are good.

Powerline Ethernet plugs are good.

Water alarms are good.

Wireless doorbells are good.

Energy monitors are good.

AND ALL TAKE UP A HUGE BIG SOCKET EACH WITH A GIANT BOX ON IT WHICH ALL CONTAIN 99% OF THE SAME TRANSFORMERS ETC. and only slightly different fancy circuits in the space that's left.

Put them all in one.

Make it modular, extendible, standardised, hackable.

Then sell me that.

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