Also available for roller blinds thanks to the Smart Shades. Smart devices, with or without HomeKit, are on the rise. More and more households are installing smart gadgets in their homes. Usually, this starts with relief, but it quickly expands. A good example of new innovation is the SOMA Tilt and Shades, with which you can make existing blinds and roller blinds smart.
In recent weeks we have extensively tested the SOMA Tilt for our blinds. The SOMA is a small motor that you attach to the turning system of the blinds so that you can operate the window decoration via an app and even via HomeKit.
- The products of SOMA
- Easy installation
- Charging via a solar panel
- Ambient light sensor
- Control blinds via the Smart Shades app
- Using triggers
- Share with other family members
- SOMA Connect for HomeKit and assistants
- Create your own SOMA Connect
- Conclusion: SOMA Tilt and Connect
- Buy SOMA products
The products of SOMA
The Estonian company SOMA Simple Smart Home specializes in making existing window coverings smarter. For example, with the SOMA Smart Shades, you can automate roller blinds and with the SOMA Tilt, you can open and close the blinds automatically.
The advantage of SOMA is that you can keep your existing window coverings and make them smarter at the same time. This makes the choice more personal and you do not have to spend hundreds of euros on tailor-made solutions or standard automated roller blinds such as the FYRTUR from IKEA.
The SOMA products can be controlled via an app. Everything is controlled locally via a Bluetooth connection and therefore no account is required. If you are in possession of a SOMA Connect, it is even possible to control the products via smart assistants such as Siri, HomeKit, Google Assistant, and Alexa.
For our review, we tested the SOMA Tilt and the Soma Connect. The Tilt consists of a white block that is equipped with a motor and ‘brain’ to control it. The block is about 7.5 cm high, 5.5 cm wide, and 4.5 cm thick. This may seem big, but when it is attached to a (white) wall it is hardly noticeable.
The installation is quite simple, via the Smart Shades app you can connect the Tilt to your smartphone and you can follow the installation step by step via app. For example, you have to determine (calibrate) the start and end position of the slats so that the blinds open exactly as the app shows.
You can attach the Tilt to the wall using the supplied double-sided and sturdy adhesive tape. Unfortunately, there is no way to hang the motor with screws. Via an extension and a swivel head, you can attach the Tilt to the swivel system of the existing blinds. The Tilt has support for various rotating systems, in the box, you will find enough headpieces that you can attach to the system.
The extension consists of steel wire finished with white PVC, this is necessary to control the rotating system via the motor. Since the extension is white, it may not go well with dark blinds. We ourselves have black blinds and therefore taped the extension and head with black insulation tape. This way the cable is less noticeable and it looks neater. It would be nice if you had the choice between multiple colors so that the extension would better match your current window coverings.
Charging via a solar panel
The SOMA Tilt works on batteries that you can charge via the included solar panel. This panel is neatly finished and can be attached to the inside of the window. There is a cable attached to the solar panel that you can connect to the motor system. The cable is long (± 2 meters), thin and flexible. You can easily conceal this via a cable duct or tightly around the window frame.
Thanks to the solar panel, the SOMA always charges and you have a full battery. In the app, you can view the status of the battery and see if a charger is connected to the system.
Don’t want to use the solar panel? Then you can manually charge the battery via the supplied USB cable. A full battery lasts approximately 30 days. In addition, you can also permanently connect the USB cable to the system and connect it to, for example, an iPhone charger.
Ambient light sensor
It is recommended to use the solar panel, as it also includes an ambient light sensor that can register how bright the sun is shining. You can then use this as input in SOMA’s trigger system. If the light level is high, the window coverings closed so that the sun is kept out. You can also do this when the brightness decreases and it gets evening. Is there just normal daylight? Then you can automatically open the roller blind or blinds.
Control blinds via the Smart Shades app
Once the system has been installed, you can use the SOMA Tilt via the Smart Shades app. The application connects to the system via Bluetooth and responds almost immediately. In the case of the Tilt, you can open the blinds. This can be up from 0 to 100% and down from 0 to 100%. 0% stands for completely open (horizontal) and 100% stands for completely closed.
For example, if you set the blinds to ‘50% closed up ‘, they will be half-closed upwards. You can open and close the blinds with a swipe. In the beginning, it takes some searching, especially since the Soma engine is running while nothing is happening. This depends on the used window covering, it is due to the rope system that often has to be pulled taut when opening and closing.
Via the settings, you can recalibrate the Tilt so that it opens and closes properly. After two tries, the system was properly set up so that the blinds open and close perfectly as shown in the app. Fully open is also fully open, closed is closed and all positions in between.
If you have several SOMA Smart Home products, you can link them together. This way you can immediately control a group of Tilts, so that all windows open and close at once. Finally, you can adjust the speed of the motor via the settings so that it works more quietly, which is handy for a bedroom.
Your window coverings are only really smart if they open and close automatically. You can automate the SOMA using triggers. For example, you can choose to open the blinds automatically at a specific time, when there is enough daylight or, for example, an hour after sunrise. You can also automate the closing via the same criteria.
When you use the triggers for ambient light, you can use the current light level as input. When setting this trigger, you can see what the current light level is. If you want to know the exact level, it is, therefore, advisable to set the trigger around the light level that you would like to use. For example, if you want to close the blinds at nightfall, it is best to create the trigger at that time.
The use of triggers is incredibly convenient and ensures that your blinds or blinds open and close automatically. If you are not home for a longer period of time, it seems that someone is still home.
The triggers also have a ‘Morning mode’, which ensures that the speed of the motor is limited so that the blinds are opened more slowly and quietly.
Share with other family members
The SOMA Smart Shades app does not require an account and everything is done locally. You can of course install the Smart Shades app on multiple devices. When opening the app, you can connect to an existing system by holding an iPhone or smartphone next to the SOMA product. The settings are synchronized via a smart (local) signal. You have to keep the device close to the SOMA, so malicious parties cannot just take over the system.
SOMA Connect for HomeKit and assistants
Because the SOMA Smart Shades app uses a local connection, it is not possible to operate the SOMA products remotely. So you cannot open or close them from another location. This is possible if you use Soma Connect. This is a pre-installed Raspberry Pi that ensures that you can link the SOMA products to HomeKit, Google Assistant, and Alexa.
Via these platforms, it is then possible to control the SOMA remotely. Unfortunately, this does not make the app any smarter, the connection is only necessary if you want to use the products with the aforementioned smart platforms and remotely.
The Soma Connect is a useful addition if you would like to control your blinds or roller blinds via, for example, the Apple Home app. The advantage of this is that you can add your ‘windows’ to HomeKit scenes and, for example, close them automatically when you leave the house.
The Connect is only interesting if you actually want to operate the SOMA via HomeKit or Google, for example. Furthermore, the box adds little, possibly that the developer will expand this in the future, but personally, I think the Smart Shades app is sufficient because almost everything can be automated in it.
Make your own SOMA Connect
The Soma Connect has a suggested retail price of € 99 but is temporarily sold for € 49. That is a reasonable price, but you can also make the Connect yourself. If you still have a Raspberry Pi with Bluetooth somewhere, you can transform it into a smart hub for your SOMA products. The SOMA website shows step by step how to make your own Connect. There is also an API available to control your own window coverings.
SOMA Smart Home
The SOMA Tilt is a fantastic product if you are interested in innovation and the house of the future. You can automate your existing window coverings in a simple way. The Tilt ensures that you can open and close your blinds, while the Smart Shades system automates your existing blinds. The operation of the SOMA Tilt is excellent and delivers good performance. Thanks to the included solar panel, the SOMA is always charged and you can determine the light level for triggers. Automating your window coverings has many advantages, such as automatic closing at dusk and giving the impression that someone is always home.
The SOMA Connect is a great addition if you also want to use the SOMA products in combination with Siri, HomeKit, or other smart assistants. The Smart Shades app is very extensive so that it can also take on the tasks of automation. Of course, it is easier to say “Hey Siri, open the blinds” than to open the app.
The SOMA Smart Shades app does not require an account and everything is done locally. As a result, it is not possible to control the blinds remotely, unless you use SOMA Connect.
- Easy installation with included accessories
- Easy to operate via the free app
- Automate via triggers including time, light level, and sun
- Solar panel included that automatically charges the battery
- Works locally without an account
- Motor speed can be adjusted so that it runs more quietly
- Environmentally friendly packaging
- Can only be used locally without connecting
- Can only be controlled outdoors via platforms such as HomeKit and Google Assistant
- Only available in white
- Cannot be fixed with screws
Buy SOMA products
The SOMA products can be purchased via the SOMA Smart Home website, where you will also find more information about the supporting window decoration. The Tilt for blinds and the Smart Shades for roller blinds have a suggested retail price of € 149. You get a temporary 20% discount.
SOMA Tilt ▸ from € 149 for € 119
SOMA Smart Shades ▸ from € 149 for € 119
SOMA Connect ▸ from € 99 for € 49
In addition, the SOMA Tilt and Smart Shades are also for sale via Bol.com for € 126.95 each.