SmartDry is a smart home product that does something useful: notifies you when the clothes in your dryer are completely dry.
A small package that fits inside almost any dryer drum can prevent clothes from shrinking, save on your energy costs (at least $60 per year, marketing claims), and even warn you about clogged vents causing high heat—or, worse, gas buildup. The second generation version can even turn off your gas dryer automatically. Reviewers prefer it over the unexpected dryness sensor of their own dryer.
The problem is that SmartDry warns you to dry clothes by connecting to your home Wi-Fi; the device sends a message to the parent company Connected Life server and then relays the message to your smartphone. But Connected Life Labs will be shutting down, discontinuing SmartDry, and shutting down its servers on September 30. After that, “the cloud service will cease to operate and the product application will no longer be supported.”
In other words, SmartDry will be the little brick in your dryer unless you’re willing to buy a small ESP32 development board, load some code into it, install it near your dryer, and set your own alerts on your Home Assistant server. If you have a first-generation SmartDry, this will actually be a bit of an upgrade, as the device is used ESP32 Espressive Chip with forever vulnerability.
Smart home devices being blocked by cloud shutdowns are nothing new, but the SmartDry is a very useful and simple device made by a company that doesn’t seem to be growing too fast. Connected Life originally three-person team prototype unit in New Jersey, and the device remains made in the US. A co-founder told Reviewed late 2021 that a version for the washing machine is being tested and is expected to be released in the summer of 2022.
Lisa Goldstein, who is deaf, write for Review in December 2021 that SmartDry saved several of his trips to and from the dungeon, because he had no other signal that his outfit was ready. Rachel Cericola of Wirecutter wrote a blog post about how SmartDry “changed the way I do laundry.” Josh Hendrickson at ReviewGeek writes that SmartDry routinely pings him about dry clothes 10-15 minutes before the timer runs out. “On nearly every occasion the censors got it right,” he wrote.
Cloud server dependency is a recurring problem with smart home devices. Smart home company Insteon seems to disappear without warning in April. Insteon later blaming the pandemic and supply chain shortages. In June, a group of dedicated customers bought Insteon and revived the service. Most of the time, shutdowns are more routine, such as when service is interrupted after acquisitionor big company lost interest in his smart home experiment.
Projects like Home Assistant, HomeViewersand relationship aim to provide locally managed fallbacks for these failed projects, but they are often supported by volunteers who gather in forums or repositories, sniffing packages, and working with esoteric hardware.
A more robust fix for failing enterprises is Matter’s interoperability standard and the Thread mesh network technology behind it, due to arrive around autumn 2022. Instead of relying on individual Wi-Fi connections, smart devices could lock onto networks created by other nearby smart devices and would theoretically be more accessible to hubs and other apps.
We’ve tried contacting Connected Life Labs and will update this post when we receive comments.