SmartDry’s useful laundry sensor to be cloud-bricked next month


enlarge / The SmartDry wash sensor was widely regarded as a useful smart gadget for the home that saved money and time. When the owners’ servers crash at the end of September, users are faced with a useless device or a remarkable DIY journey.

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SmartDry was a smart home product that did something useful: tell you when your clothes in your dryer were actually dry.

A small package mounted in almost every tumble dryer can prevent clothes from shrinking, save you energy costs (at least $60 a year, the marketing claimed), and even warn you of clogged vents that cause high heat — or, much worse, gas buildup. . A second-generation version could even turn off your gas dryer automatically. Reviewers preferred it to the unpredictable dryness sensors of their own dryers.

The problem is, SmartDry warned you about dry clothes by connecting to your home’s Wi-Fi; the device sent a message to its parent company Connected Life’s servers and then forwarded that message to your smartphone. But Connected Life Labs is going to close, stop SmartDry and shut down its servers on September 30. After that, “cloud services will be discontinued and product apps will no longer be supported.”

In other words, SmartDry is going to be a little brick in your dryer unless you’re willing to buy a small ESP32 development board, load some code into it, plug it in near your dryer, and set your own alerts to your Home Assistant server . If you had a first-generation SmartDry, this would actually be a minor improvement, as those devices used Espressif ESP32 chips with perpetual vulnerability.

Smarthome devices bricked by cloud shutdowns aren’t new, but SmartDry was a particularly handy, low-key device made by a company that didn’t seem to be expanding too quickly. Connected Life was originally a three-person prototype team in New Jersey, and the device continued to be made in the US. A co-founder told Reviewed in late 2021 that a version for the washing machine was being tested and expected to be released in the summer of 2022.

Lisa Goldstein, who is deaf, wrote for Reviewed in December 2021 that SmartDry saved her multiple trips to and from the basement because she had no other signal that her clothes were ready. Wirecutter’s Rachel Cericola wrote a blog post about how SmartDry “transformed the way I do laundry”. Josh Hendrickson of ReviewGeek wrote that SmartDry routinely pings him about dry clothes 10–15 minutes before the timer ran out. “On almost every occasion, the sensor got it right,” he wrote.

SmartDry's second-generation kit included a plug that could automatically shut off gas dryers.
enlarge / SmartDry’s second-generation kit included a plug that could automatically shut off gas dryers.

Connected life

Dependency on cloud servers is a recurring problem with smart home devices. Smarthome company Insteon appeared to disappear without warning in April. Insteon later blamed the pandemic and supply chain shortages. In June, a group of dedicated customers purchased Insteon and revived its services. Usually, shutdowns are more routine, such as when a service is shut down after an acquisition, or when a large company loses interest in its smart home experiment.

Projects like Home Assistant, HomeSeer, and Hubitat aim to provide locally managed fallbacks to these failing projects, but they’re often powered by volunteers who gather in forums or repositories, sniff packages, and work with esoteric hardware.

A more robust solution for failing businesses could be the Matter interoperability standard and the Thread mesh networking technology behind it, which will be released sometime in the fall of 2022. Rather than relying on individual Wi-Fi connections, a smart device could connect to the network created by other smart devices nearby and would theoretically be more accessible to other hubs and apps.

We have attempted to reach Connected Life Labs and will update this post if we receive any comments.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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