The Spotter could be an important piece of the smart home puzzle.
By clicking one of our links you're supporting our labs and our independence, as we may earn a small share of revenue. Recommendations are separate from any business incentives.
The dream of a connected home are now getting closer to becoming a reality thanks to a device called Spotter. One of many gadgets resulting from the unusual partnership between corporate behemoth General Electric and indie crowd-sourced invention site Quirky, this puck-shaped device looks like a fancy smoke detector, but it's actually a sensor that detects light, sound, motion, temperature, and humidity. The device was first released for sale on October 31, 2013, and costs $50.
Spotter is called the "multi-purpose sensor," which pretty concisely describes what it does. The device is synced to a smartphone running Quirky's free Wink app, which is currently available for iOS and Android. From the app, the user programs the Spotter to send an alert whenever it senses a change in any of the five statistics it detects.
This means you can do things like get a text when a Spotter mounted on your front door detects motion, letting you know the instant someone enters your house. Set a Spotter on your dishwasher and it can send you an e-mail when it hears the machine's "done" signal. There are many possibilities, and the technology gives creative users a lot of room to experiment.
At the end of the day, Spotter is just a user-friendly everything-detector, and it's still very much a work in progress. For example, you can set what temperature will trigger an alert, but surprisingly, you can't view live temperature or humidity data. Spotter also won't be able to turn your lights on for you when you enter the house, or turn up the heat when a room gets too cold. While the device is good for picking up changes in the environment, it can't take the next step of actually doing something about it.
Quirky is taking steps to bridge that gap. The Spotter can communicate with Quirky's Pivot Power Genius, which is a flexible power strip that's also controlled via the Wink smartphone app. If you have both of these gadgets, you can have up to two outlets (hooked up to, say, a lamp or a fan) turn on automatically when you enter a room.
That's one tiny step, but it seems like Quirky has a lot of plans for its developing platform. As Spotter matures alongside the larger smart home technology market, we're sure to see more devices that can take advantage of all the information that this little disc picks up.
[Hero image: quirky.com]
Sign up for our newsletter to get real advice from real experts.