Axis Gear promises to make your dumb window shades smart

Motorized window shades aren’t new. What’s different about Axis Gear is that it will motorize the window shades you already own.

Axis Gear

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These are exciting times if, like us, you are a sentient bag of flesh, blood, and indolence. The proliferation of connected-home devices and appliances is making our lives easier with each passing day, to a point where we no longer have to exert our life force on such mundane tasks as lowering and raising window shades.

A New York-based startup named Axis on Monday launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the initial production run of Axis Gear, an app-controlled device that motorizes and automates window treatments. The company says the “smart” add-on—essentially a motor with a Bluetooth radio and some sensors—should work with any new or existing window shade that has a chain-drive system, regardless of which beaded chain or cord loop it uses.

Once you’ve attached the motor to a window shade’s chain or cord, you will be able to operate the whole thing via a smartphone app over a Bluetooth Low Energy link: Actively control it, or program it to lower or raise the shade as per a pre-set schedule, or leave it to a suite of onboard sensors to automatically trigger these actions for you based on the time of day or the temperature. It also includes a built-in clutch for manual operation, just in case.

“Our goal is to simplify our customers’ lives by offering an innovative, affordable and easy-to-install product,” Axis CEO and founder Trung Pham said in a press release. According to the company, installing Gear is super-easy and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

The fully wireless and solar-powered Gear is being offered to Indiegogo backers at a “super early bird price” of $95, which is less than half the $195 price tag it’s expected to sport when it makes its retail debut sometime in late 2016. The company says it hopes to integrate Gear with some popular smart-home platforms and devices in the intervening period.

Why this matters: When transforming your dumb abode into a smart one, it obviously makes more economic sense to retrofit rather than replace existing items. For this reason, if it ever sees the light of day, Gear is likely to give all those expensive (and often complicated) smart window treatment options out there a serious run for the money.

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