In yet another example of why local access to your devices is crucial, Connected Life Labs, makers of the SmartDry, going bust has left customers with an expensive paperweight and our already struggling planet with yet more e-waste. SmartDry came in three parts: a sensor that was able to withstand being in a tumble dryer, a smart plug that interacted with it, and a hub that tied everything together. The sensor would tell the smart plug to cut the power whenever the load was dry, thus cutting down on drying time, if all the machine used was a set timer.
Considering that electric tumble dryers use between 1800 and 5000 watts of energy, the 15-20 minutes savings many owners of the SmartDry reported could significantly lower their energy bill. All in all, this sounds like something many could make use of, and the SmartDry would likely pay for itself within a year or two. In my opinion, energy savings and smart energy usage are two of the pivotal achievements of a smart home.
That is, if Connected Life Labs, makers of the SmartDry, hadn’t gone bust. Without any warning, a note on their website informed customers that their energy and money saving gadget would stop working immediately. The saddest part of that being that the SmartDry could so easily continue working, without any backing or cloud services. This should come as a stark reminder that if any company offers a product without local access, it remains fully in their control. You might think you own the device, but you are not controlling it.
Potential buyers of the SmartDry should have held off, until assurances were given that they would actually own the device and Connected Life Labs granted local access. The main function of the SmartDry was to stop the tumble dryer whenever the load was dry. There are is no cloud needed for that. While you might lose your notifications, I doubt many viewed them as an essential part of the system.
What are the alternatives to SmartDry?
Unfortunately, there currently is no product that could replace a SmartDry. Users of the Home Assistant Community are currently exploring the possibilities of reverse engineering their existing SmartDry. These efforts might be fruitful, considering it communicates using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). However, I doubt many non-techy owners of the SmartDry will consider this solution.
Considering the device needs to resist the heat, moisture, and rough housing of a tumble dryer, long-lasting DIY products might be difficult to build. I know I wouldn’t trust any of my creations to survive those conditions. It remains to be seen, whether someone else sees an opportunity in mass-producing such a device.
I have one last suggestion, though: if possible, why not hang your clothes outside and let the sun and heat dry them? This not only saves energy, as the SmartDry did, but uses no electricity whatsoever.