Hands-on: SOMA Smart Shades makes your existing blinds work with HomeKit

Smart shades and blinds are cool, but they are not cheap. The SOMA Smart Shades is an adaptor for existing blinds to make them remotely controllable without having to shell out for all-new blinds. For HomeKit integration, you need at least one Soma Connect hub too.

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The SOMA Smart Shades comprises of a little box that hooks into your blind’s cord, and a wireless hub. The box needs to be positioned under your window, roughly at the point where the cord of the blind dangles down. (The hub enables the HomeKit integration and can be situated anywhere as long as it is in range.)

All the smarts is in the little box. Rather than opening or closing the blind with your hands, this little box does it for you. It moves the blind up and down by winding the cord up and down. Its internal brain keeps track of the current position of the blind, so it knows how much to turn clockwise or anti-clockwise when you ask to raise or lower it. The device is compatible with bearded cords and endless loop style blinds.

Trust me, I was skeptical when I read the pitch for this product originally. It sounds like something that couldn’t possibly work reliably. But it does. When you first set up the Smart Shades, you wind the cord into the claws of the magic box and use the app to calibrate. You essentially tell it when it hits the top, fully raised, and likewise when the blind is down. On its own, it can then interpolate between those two extremes.