SmartThings Community

Integrating window shades with SmartThings (Axis Gear)

Hey everyone,

We’re launching a device that tackles bringing window shades into the connected and automated space without heavy modification or need to purchase new shades.

We were curious what the community thought about this and how important a planned integration with SmartThings would be.

You can find out a bit more about what our vision is for context here: igg.me/at/axis-gear

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It’s a topic that comes up often in the community so I’m sure you’ll get a lot of good responses. :sunglasses:

Some of the past conversations might also be of interest to you:

And

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Speaking just for myself, I am very interested in automated window coverings, but for any product that might be used in unattended mode, I would follow CPSC safety recommendations. That means no Chains or cords that children or pets can get entangled in. So I personally would not use a product like the proposed axis gear as pictured with the motorized pulley hanging from the bottom of the chain. The potential for serious safety hazard for a corded shade is just too high if it’s operating unsupervised.

http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/Window-Covering/

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This would definitely be on my top 3 things I would love to have. However I completely agree with @JDRoberts this has to be made safe while unattended.

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Hi JDRoberts,

Great point - we are actually making our product child proof. A few suggestions the regulators have brought up include:

  • The ability to cut the chains sort and installing the AXIS Gear above eye level
  • Ensuring that the AXIS Gear securely tensions the beaded chains or cords (which confirm to current regulations in which the manufacturer must supply a tensioning device that prevents the creation of any loops greater than 2.5")
  • Ensuring that the device will not be easily un-attached from the walls with force under 20lb

We are working directly with the CPSC on ensuring we meet not only required regulations, but also voluntary standards.

Thanks for your feedback. It really tells us what the community is concerned about!

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Very innovative and clear, I like this and I would consider installing it. The chain-hanger concept is interesting.

Thanks Dean - hope you can back or share our campaign to help us make it happen.

If you have any more feedback or want to see anything specific in the product don’t hesitate to reach out!

Over all you product looks really nice and with a ~1yr ship date you manufacturing time also seams appropriate. I like that you have put a lot of though into how it should work. Though choosing zigbee over zwave will limit the home automation platforms your product will support, but zigbee does have the advantage of a single globally supported frequency range.
Stating that your product will support IFTTT is kinda misleading since the Bluetooth device (phone) the shades are paired to would have to be local and have Internet access for this to work. For most users this means that you only get IFTTT while you are home.

I do have 2 concerns, in your videos your demo units make no noticeable noise, which is unheard of from motorized drapes. Your spec sheet list noise to be greater that 35db, which doesn’t say much cause the sound of me talking to myself is normally louder than 35db. You’ve had 1-2 months with your working prototype… How loud is it, by itself and grinding on a metal bead chain?
Secondly, you explicitly mention SmartThings support via zigbee and Nest support via Thread. How far along are your integrations with these 2 ecosystems, especially with thread still being mostly vaporware?

Nest thread is a different protocol than google thread. Cousins. Nest thread is very real, full field deployment, that’s the basis of " works with Nest."

Urgh… 2x Thread with the same company… But your right, and im confusing the 2… Either way I’m still interested, and skeptical. :smile:

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Hi sidjohn1,

Great questions. To answer:

- IFTTT: You are correct, IFTTT will only work when the user is at home. That being said, there are a lot of products that are on IFTTT that do not have a wifi chip in them; they rely on IFTTT (e.g. Fitbit). The IFTTT recipes that we brainstormed have to do specifically with user convenience - for example, having the shades rise when your Fitbit detects that you have waken up, so you can wake up to sunshine.
- Noise: You are also absolutely correct, noise is a huge concern. We have designed our device based on this requirement. We have designed a custom gear box with the lowest noise possible, using lubrication and plastics. This is not an off-the-shelf gear box we have chosen. The metal bead chains also do not cause any noise as we have shifted from a sprocket design to using a rubber pulley to tension and control the chain. Unfortunately, noise is very difficult record via video.
- SmartHome Integration: For Zigbee, we have already tested Zigbee HA 1.2 which is at the heart of SmartThings, and we will soon start the certification process with the SmartThings hub. As for THREAD, NEST announced the WEAVE program which allow us to directly communicate with NEST without WIFI.

These are great questions and insights. If you have any more questions or concerns, please let us know. Any feedback on our device is also appreciated! Hoping you can support our Indiegogo campaign!

It’s amazing to me how many people are concerned with noise with a device that would only run twice a day. (For me at least.) If the product is $10 cheaper because you went with a louder motor I’d prefer that. All HA Equipment right now is way over my budget.

Also this all being said I’m only concerned with tilting my blinds, so maybe my servos that I have purchased to do it with are quieter because they have a lighter load.

We agree - when looking into the market for motorized blinds we found the cost to motorize blinds was upwards of $400 per window and we wanted to change that. However, when creating our product we didn’t want to sacrifice performance or noise levels.

I’m curious to know more about the servos you purchased and how you plan on implementing them to tilt your blinds. We would be interested in creating the perfect solution for venetian blinds as a next project.

Personally I’d want the blind to progressively open in the morning so that more light is let in gradually. I’d want to naturally wake up because of the light and not because a motor went “WHHHUUURRRR”…

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We actually have this feature built in. The speed and duration of how the blind opens can be all custom.

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Given any thought to Amazon Echo integration?

Looks cool, but I don’t have those type of blinds at all. The one area I’d like to look at adding this would be my dinning room that has vertical blinds, but it just as a twist rod to open/close and you push 'em open and shut.

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Yea I’m definitely in the blinds crowd. Faux wood for life!

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I have the Lutron Serena Shades. Integrates with Smart Things via Harmony Hub. Automating the blinds is nothing short of amazing. It was a big investment but well worth it. I can open my blinds using my amazon echo!

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Hey Matthew, we’re planning to integrate with Echo in the near future via Thread when it becomes available.