Hook promises to make smart homes out of dumb power switches for less than $100


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By moving remote-controlled outlet and light bulb switches onto a local Wi-Fi network, Hook promises to enable a smart home for under $100.

The new Kickstarter project taps into cheap light bulb socket caps and outlet switches that are already on the market. These switches usually come in multi-packs for as little as $6 apiece, and include an RF remote control for turning the switches on or off.

Hook essentially clones the RF connection over Wi-Fi, using a small hub device and a companion smartphone app. After cloning the remote's on-off functions, users can control their light bulbs and outlets from anywhere in the house with a smartphone. Hook should work with anything that uses RF 315/433MHz, including motorized blinds and wireless door chimes.

Simply replacing a physical remote with a smartphone may not be too useful on its own, but Hook is promising to work with IFTTT as well. This should allow users to set up lighting schedules, get alerts when an appliance has run for too long, and connect Hook with other smart home devices. (This is all powered by Spark, a company that sells cheap hardware development kits to anyone who wants to make their own connected products.)

Hook is charging $40 for the hub, and is offering several pre-programmed outlet and bulb socket bundles. One hub with a pack of five outlets and three bulb sockets costs $85. Hook plans to ship units to backers in December, but keep in mind this is a crowdfunding campaign, and plans can always go awry.

Why this matters: One of the biggest barriers to smart home adoption is the cost of connecting everyday appliances such as light bulbs and outlets. Belkin and Quirky both charge $50 for a single outlet that works with their respective systems, so you could easily spend hundreds of dollars connecting all the appliances you want. Hook's solution may not be as elegant, but it's considerably cheaper.

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