The days of having to get up from your sofa to access appliances are long gone. You can control your heating, lighting and even washing machine from an app on your smartphone with the right products. But that's not all.
There are also a number of products on the market that allow you to control your curtains or blinds too, via an app or conventional remote, giving you even less reason to move. And we have been spending some time with one of these - the Qmotion Shades demo kit - so we can tell you what it is, how it works and what our first impressions were.
Qmotion Shades currently only includes roller blinds in its portfolio but the company has plans to move into curtains and venetian and roman blinds by early next year.
If you are after smart roller blinds that bring some excitement to your windows, then the QMotion set is a fun bit of kit. The company has a massive selection of fabrics to choose from and by massive we mean over 600 options, from floral to patterned and everything inbetween. If you can't find one to suit your living room though, you can send in your own fabric or get something, or someone, printed on them - family portrait blinds anyone?
We had a plain black shade when we were testing them and we found it was perfectly capable of blocking out the light when we held it up to our window, without making everything pitch black. There are of course ones that will do that too though. The texture felt good quality and we would have been more than happy to have it permanently up in our house.
The blinds can be produced up to 3-metres wide so if you have big windows like we do then this shouldn't be a problem. There are no wires, literally none, and they require just two screws on either side so they should be as easy as installing a normal roller blind.
To cover the mechanism, Qmotion Shades offers a number of fascias depending on your window setup. They come in five traditional colour options including black, bronze, cream, silver and white and they are plastic to ensure the Wi-Fi signal can get through.
When it comes to setting up the blinds to control with the remote, it's pretty straight-forward. There is a manual override if you lose the controller, which is quite possible as it isn't very big. Up to 99 blinds can be controlled using one remote but if you have a house with 100 windows or more, we suspect you will want at least one more remote anyway as if you don't want to move far from the sofa. You aren't likely to want to go downstairs or upstairs just to fetch the remote or your phone if it isn't on you.
The blinds are shipped in sleep mode so you have to give it a tug and hold the up arrow on the remote for the blind to learn and connect to it. Once it is connected, you can then teach the remote the length of your window so it doesn't keep going and end up in a big pile at the bottom. It was really easy to set up and we were impressed with how quick the blind learnt what it had to do.
Holding the down arrow and pulling the blind to the length of the window is all you have to do to teach it, after which you can request it to go down to 25 percent, 50 percent or 75 per cent using the other three buttons on the remote.
A Qmotion app is available for Android and iOS devices and it allows you to use the same controls as the remote but on your smartphone. You can also pull the blinds up or down using just your finger for a more precise adjustment, which is a nice touch. And you can operate your blinds as groups and set scenes.
To operate the blinds with the app, you'll need QSync, which you will need to connect to your router. But any blind that you connect to QSync will then sync across any Android or iOS device that you also connect, meaning you'll only need to create a group of blinds once, for example.
During our time with the Qmotion Shades demo kit, we found the blinds delivered a quick response and their movement was seamless and fluid, as well as easy to set up. If you have multiple blinds, you can also teach the remote to lower or raise them all at the same time, and if you need to manually control them, then a tug will send them down or up to the next default position.
One of our favourite things about the Qmotion blinds were their use of batteries as it means no costly electrician bills to fit them. The company claims the batteries will give you around five years use, which takes into account moving them up and down twice a day. Once they do run out of steam, the batteries are easily accessible when the blind is fully down so you shouldn't break any windows trying to change them.
It's also worth mentioning a timer feature that will allow you to programme all your blinds through a computer is in the works too. Although it is still waiting for approval, it means more exciting development is on the way for this area of the smarthome field. Burglars beware.
The Qmotion Shades aren't cheap by any stretch of the imagination, starting at £570, but they work well, look good and they mean you'll never have to spend your precious time figuring out which side of the bobbly cord to pull. Plus you can have whatever fabric you want or your dog's face printed on them if you so wish. What's not to love?
The only problem we have now is that our own windows are begging for some and at over £500 a pop, we will have to be saving for a while.