Smart blinds are a great addition to a smart home; they play well with smart lighting to automatically keep your home bathed in sunshine during the day and warm and cozy at night. But they’re expensive, and many manufacturers need expensive proprietary bridges or hubs to add automation to their window coverings.
With the launch of its new PowerView Gen 3 automation platform earlier this year, custom shade maker Hunter Douglas has lowered the barrier to entry a bit by ditching its proprietary hub and rocking its entire platform. to Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). This week it also confirmed that the new platform will support Matter, the new smart home interoperability standard. “Material is definitely something we plan to do as soon as the standard is ratified,” said Scott Stephenson of Hunter Douglas. The edge in an interview.
Hunter Douglas PowerView Gen 3 automation platform does not support Apple HomeKit
However, according to Stephenson, the company will not add Matter support to its PowerView Gen 2 platform. Also, the Gen 3 platform does not support Apple HomeKit, while Gen 2 does. Stephenson says the company is still working on HomeKit integration.
But with Matter on board, Hunter Douglas may not need official HomeKit certification for its new automation platform. Smart blinds are part of the first rollout of the new smart home standard, and Apple has publicly announced that its Home app will support Matter. Apple’s iOS 16, which arrived this week, already has this support built-in, according to Stephenson.
Once the Matter standard launches later this year, any Matter-enabled device can be controlled with Apple’s Home app and its voice assistant, Siri, as well as any other Matter-enabled smart home platform. All of this is an encouraging sign of things to come with Matter, but until the standard actually arrives, there are still more questions than answers about how everything will actually work.
For its Gen 3 smart shades to work with Matter, customers will need to purchase Hunter Douglas’ new PowerView Gateway. Unlike smart shaders offered by companies like Eve, its smart shaders don’t have the ability to be directly upgraded to Matter. This gateway has dropped in price from the previous version, but it’s still $195 (was $285).
However, with the new platform, Hunter Douglas has made the gateway optional. All Gen 3 shades now have built-in BLE radios, allowing them to pair directly to the PowerView app using a smartphone or tablet. If all you want to do is set your smart shades on a schedule or add them to a scene or automation to, say, open at sunrise and close at sunset, you just need the PowerView app. If you want to connect to other smart home platforms, including Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Matter, you’ll need a gateway.
Stephenson said BLE was chosen over other protocols such as Zigbee and Thread because it can use a smartphone as a “hub”. “The phones don’t have Zigbee radios or Thread radios,” he said, “The phones have Bluetooth radios.” Wi-Fi is too power-hungry for battery-powered shades, he said, and with BLE, a user with just a few shades can experience the benefits of automation without the added expense of a gateway.
Hunter Douglas PowerView Gen 2 shades cannot be upgraded to the Gen 3 system. Those with existing shades can still control both versions in the same app, but they cannot add them to the same scenes and automations.
Along with the PowerView Gen 3 platform, Hunter Douglas is also introducing an internal rechargeable battery for its smart roller shades and a redesigned Pebble remote.