Bond Bridge by Olibra review: Bringing smart-home tech to dumb ceiling fans

    It looks like the good residence business has been slowly shifting away from hub-based expertise, so it’s curious to see a brand new hub from Olibra enter the fray. But whereas Bond is usually known as a hub, the fact is that it’s a bridge, and that distinction makes it solely distinctive on this discipline—and surprisingly, uncommonly helpful.

    The large promoting level of the Bond Bridge is that it’s meant to make these forgotten home equipment and gadgets in your own home a part of your good residence ecosystem. Front and middle in that mission is the ceiling fan—and by that I imply the comparatively fashionable ceiling fan, one that’s operated by a distant management, not a pull-cord. These remotes use RF expertise to speak with the fan, and as such they’ve been giant neglected of the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/Zigbee good residence universe.

    Well, not solely—supplied your fan is managed by a swap in your wall. GE, Honeywell, and Leviton have Z-Wave-based fan controllers that may be tied right into a broader good residence community that makes use of that protocol, and there’s the $50 Lutron Caséta Fan Control that makes use of that firm’s proprietary protocol (one which requires a bridge of its personal, which prices about $80). But these options—and others like them—management solely the fan.

    Bond by Olibra Christopher Null / IDG

    For now, the Bond Bridge is restricted to controlling ceiling followers and fireplaces which have current RF distant controls.

    TechHive government editor Michael Brown has the Leviton product put in in a single room, and the Lutron product put in in one other. In each circumstances, he has separate (Z-Wave-based) good dimmers to manage the lights within the followers, so the price of the Bond Bridge is significantly lower than the answer he has assembled.

    Bond ties the fan’s RF community to your Wi-Fi community by a small hockey puck that you simply plug in someplace close to the fan {hardware}. Unlike the Z-Wave and Lutron merchandise, Bond can even management the ceiling fan’s mild (if it’s outfitted with one). Instead of getting to resort to that simply misplaced fan distant, you may function each components—the fan and the sunshine—by an app in your good cellphone. To see how nicely these guarantees measured as much as actuality, I examined Bond with my very own ceiling fan, a mannequin from Emerson that’s just a few years previous.

    Setting up Bond Bridge needs to be acquainted to anybody with even passing familiarity with good residence tech. Plug the unit in, set up the app, and connect with its momentary Wi-Fi community earlier than tethering it to your own home WLAN. From right here, setup proceeds very similar to establishing a common tv distant. Just faucet just a few buttons within the Bond app, then level your fan distant on the Bond Bridge. It routinely detects the make of your fan, then populates the Bond app interface with a choice of features related to your model. If your fan isn’t in Bond’s database (greater than 700 gadgets are at present supported, per Olibra), you may manually program the controls right here.

    Everything labored with barely a hiccup in my testing, and in a matter of minutes I used to be fortunately controlling my ceiling fan from my cellphone. Every perform out there on my fan’s distant was replicated within the app, although a few features which my fan didn’t help (together with a second mild management and a dimmer icon) appeared as nicely. These superfluous controls are straightforward to delete with simply a few faucets.

    My solely actual hiccup with the app was that it isn’t one of the best at holding observe of the standing of the fan. A inexperienced ring surrounds the ability icon when the fan is on (and follows alongside to indicate your last-used perform), however if you happen to flip the fan off through different means (one other set up of the app, your distant, and many others.), the ring doesn’t disappear. I needed to persistently drive give up the app then relaunch it to get the ability standing of the fan to replace; even then, it wasn’t all the time dependable.

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