The consensus on smart-home electronics so far is that they’re long on promise, short on delivery. Sure, it’s possible to set up a system to dim your lights on command, but that often takes thousands of dollars of professional installation and programming to accomplish. (You might be better off getting a Clapper.)
Savant, a leader in ultra-high-end connected home systems–one of their points of pride is kitting out Steve Jobs’s yacht–is bringing a new family of wireless products to the public that aims to make the connected home more accessible and “democratize lifestyle automation.”
Savant CEO William Lynch believes many automation systems play into worry and fear. The products emphasize how connected devices can let parents keep an eye on their kids remotely, track who enters their home, and use a fleet of sensors to ensure that there isn’t a flood or heating system that’s gone awry. But what if you’re not a worrier?
He’s instead playing the entertainment angle. “It’s about unlocking who you are and driving more enjoyment to your home,” he says.
The new system centers around a souped-up universal remote, lighting controller, host, and infrared blaster that links all your electronics and streamlines the interaction process.
Savant worked with former Beats collaborator Ammuniton to design the products and packaging. In typical Ammunition fashion, the products’ physical presence is detailed and thought out. The host, with its softened triangular shape, looks domesticated; not too techy. The remote has a nice weight to it and feels good to hold, with both a touchscreen and push buttons at your disposal. It’s also voice-activated and remembers the channels you like to watch or services you use most, and keeps them at the top of the menu. Instead of fumbling with apps on your phone to operate different systems, they’re all accessible through the remote, which can control over 380,000 different electronics. Setting up the app supposedly takes less than 10 minutes.
Savant is best known for creating scenes—programmed settings for a particular moment, like getting your coffee maker to start brewing, CNN to turn on, and the thermostat to get your house nice and toasty when you wake up in the morning. Programming typically takes a lot of time and expertise, but the new Savant Instant app makes it as easy as taking a screenshot.
For example, users can tweak lights to their ideal level, sync a playlist, and then hit “Capture” on the app to save the preferences as a scene. After sitting in the Savant experience center and seeing how easy it was to program, my Roku remote at home felt hopelessly and utterly inadequate.
Pricing for Savant’s new line starts at $100 for the lamp controller, and $500 for the remote-and-host package. The products hit shelves in December 2015.