FlipFlic - Smart Window Blinds for Your Smart Home
Tom Spendlove posted on March 29, 2016 |
A device that attaches to your window blinds for smart control is running a Kickstarter campaign.

Ksenia Vinogradova has a simple and straightforward goal in her engineering projects – to make life easier. Ease of living might mean enhanced comfort or safety and security depending on the user. Along with her development team Vinogradova is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund FlipFlic, a device to bring window blinds into the smart home.

FlipFlic is a device that connects to your existing window blinds and acts as an automatic tilting wand to open or close the blinds. The unit has an integrated battery and recharges through micro USB from a solar panel attached to the window. If the user doesn’t want the solar panel charging standard micro USB charging can be done at estimated thirty day intervals.

An app controls the blinds being open or shut. Temperature can be set so that the blinds actuate if the room becomes too warm or too cool. Timing can be scheduled hour by hour for the blinds to be open, closed, or temperature sensor controlled. Users can also open or close the blinds manually at any time. If a user buys multiple FlipFlic devices they can be grouped together or controlled separately. Bluetooth Low Energy and ZigBee can currently control the FlipFlic unit.

Ksenia answered a few questions for us about the design cycle. She said that the initial requirements for the design were an external device that looked sleek and attractive. The installation needed to be easy with one snapping motion, and it needed to work autonomously with sensors. These functions required engineering design work on the interior of the device and algorithms to be built to automate the blind movement.

A huge hurdle through the development process was upgrading from early AA battery models to a rechargeable lithium polymer battery. The rechargeable battery allowed for a different motor size, smaller design footprint, and the ability to charge from a connected solar panel. One of the stretch goals for the campaign and a design enhancement for future units is to add integration with IFTTT, data analytics, and other cloud based features.

Vinogradova and her team have been working on FlipFlic since 2014. The team presented at European Utility Week in Amsterdam, TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, and are members of Buildit Estonia and Highway1. Their campaign ends on May 13, and first units are expected to ship in January 2017. Like many of my favorite innovations, FlipFlic looks simple at first until you consider the work that takes place mechanically and in the control system.

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