No matter where you turn, you’ll hear about the Internet of Things, something Google, Apple, and Amazon are all racing to get into in various ways, from the Google Home to Apple’s HomePod. Still, the light-activating speaker is just the start; making a smart home means retrofitting it, an intimidating task for most people. The CNCT IntelliPLUG wants to make turning your dumb home smart as simple as putting plugs in outlets, but while it’s a good idea, it falls afoul of the messy realities of the technology.
The IntelliPLUG, currently raising money on IndieGoGo, is basically a wireless switch; you plug it into an outlet, connect it to your phone or your voice-controlled device, and then can flip on or off anything you have plugged in. Or you can set and forget a timer, so if, say, you throw food into a crockpot and set a timer on the plug, you just need to throw the lid on and head out the door. In theory, at least, it fills in a gap for smart home fans and people who just need control over certain parts of their homes. Theory and practice, however, are two different things.
The basics are simple and user-friendlier than many smart gadgets. Many “smart” outlets and similar tools require some basic electrical knowledge to hook up properly, but the intelliPLUG just goes right into the wall. That said, there’s only room for one on your standard outlet plate. It’s fairly discreet as these things go, but still big enough that it takes up most of the outlet, and it might be a challenge to fit in on an outlet where you have a larger plug, such as a window air conditioner or a larger wall wart for an appliance. You’ll almost certainly want to fit it on the top, as on the bottom it comes up just high enough to make fitting a second plug with a ground a challenge. See for yourself: