Philips Hue has been one of my favourite purchases in recent months, I love being able to control my lights remotely and have them on schedules. So the idea of being able to do the same with my blinds is very appealing and the Soma Smart Shades do that, for a relatively affordable price and can work with your existing blinds.
First thing first, you need to be aware that the Soma only really works on roller blinds, though it will probably work with vertical too (I haven’t tried that). It won’t work on the increasingly popular roman blinds as there are generally 2 pairs of cords for these, and in the case of my roman blinds, there would be no logical place to fit the unit.
The reason why it only works on some blinds is that device itself isn’t terribly complex, it is basically a little motor that you thread the roller around and mount to the wall. This little motor is then controlled via your phone via Bluetooth. This makes set-up pretty simple, and I was able to get everything mounted within a few minutes.
Set-up via the app is quite straightforward and there is a wizard that takes you through everything. You can control the blind directly for the app, but a better option is to have a schedule. The app will give you the battery life of the device too, but with the solar panel, you will hopefully not need to plug in the power cord.
Unfortunately, you will no longer be able to sue the blinds manually once you install this, so you will always have to use the app. This can be a little annoying occasionally, as loading up the app and instructing your blinds to open is a lot slower than just manually doing it.
The actual motor action is quite slow too, so when you manually open/close the blinds it is quite a slow process. Sticking to just the schedule you won’t notice this issue at all.
At the moment, the app doesn’t provide the some of the home automation features you might be used to. Specifically, integration with other apps such as IFTTT or the like. I think this would be an important addition as if ideally, I would have this set up to completely set and forget, with the blinds opening based and actual sunset and sunrise times rather than a set schedule.
Overall, if you want smart blinds but don’t want the expense of replacing them with expensive motorised blinds then this is an excellent option. The limited number of compatible blinds will make this quite a niche product, but if you have roller blinds, and want these features then it is a good choice.