In the future, every appliance you own will come with the capability to connect to the Internet. But for now, you can smarten your home with the Quirky Spotter.
The Spotter is small white hockey puck-shaped device. The gadget is equipped with sensors that allow it to hear audio, sense motion and notice changes in light, temperature and humidity.
The device works by connecting to users’ home Wi-Fi networks and syncing with a companion app, called Wink, on their smartphone.
Setting up the device takes about five minutes, counting the time needed to download the app and syncing it with the Spotter. Once users have paired their phone with the Spotter, they can use the app to program different kinds of "triggers" that the device will look for.
I tested the gadget by placing it on my door and programming it to notify me anytime it sensed motion. This essentially turned the Spotter and the Wink app into a very basic security system for my apartment that alerted me with a smartphone notification whenever someone entered or exited through my door. Though I didn’t hear him come in, the Spotter notified me the second my roommate got home.
The Spotter has no defined purpose. It can be used in whatever way its owner can think of.
I asked Quirky, the maker of the gadget, for a few ideas. The company said the device can be used as a child monitor with its audio sensing capabilities. It can be used to detect whenever a washer or dryer has finished its load when the Spotter is programmed to send alerts if it senses that motion has stopped. The device could also be placed in a dark space, such as a mailbox or a safe, and send alerts whenever it detects light, which would occur when the space is opened.
In my trial with the Spotter, I found the audio sensor to work fine, although it was quite sensitive. The temperature sensor also worked well, notifying me when it dropped below 70 degrees in my dining area.
The Spotter can easily be placed in various locations. The device’s base is magnetic, which makes it easy to attach to appliances like a refrigerator. It also comes with adhesives that can be used to stick the Spotter to a wall, or in my case, to my door -- however, those adhesives will work properly only once. The Spotter’s base also features two holes, so it can be screwed in place if necessary.
To power the Spotter, users can choose between using two AA batteries or they can simply plug the gadget into an electrical outlet. I tested the Spotter using both methods, and it worked fine with each. However, the Spotter can use only its audio, temperature and humidity sensing modes if it is plugged directly into an outlet.
Overall, I thought the Spotter performed admirably, especially since it costs just $49.99. But at that price, users are getting the most simple kind of multi-sensor that is available, so it’s not perfect.
I felt that the Spotter struggled to perform with 100% accuracy when running on batteries and programmed to sense two different kinds of triggers. I programmed it to alert me if it sensed motion and light around my door, but often it would alert me on only one of these triggers, even when I knew both had been set off.
As for the Wink, I thought the app also performed well and provided an enjoyable experience. The app gives users a clean and easy way to manage the device. Setting up triggers is very simple and intuitive. The app also makes it possible to program the Spotter to send notifications to multiple users -- something that could have come in handy for my roommate and me if we were truly using the Spotter as a security system for our apartment.
If you’re in the market for an affordable way to make your home a little bit smarter, the Spotter is a good choice.
Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times