Earlier this month Den, the London based smart-home technology startup, launched their next generation light switches, sockets, remote controller and hub.
After four years in development, the company founded by 22 year old Yasser Khattak, 17 at the time, has raised over £5m in funding – and with Robert Watkins (former CEO of Amstrad), brought in one of the most experienced names in consumer electronics production. Den has designed, tested and built the most inclusive range of smart home products available on the market, whilst not changing the look and feel of the products already installed in homes.
Den’s product range can be operated at the wall as usual, via an Android or iOS smartphone app, or through an Amazon Echo or Google Assistant.
Products from Amazon.co.uk
Den uses the IEEE 802.15.4 protocol, which is a ‘low-rate wireless personal area network’ (LR-WPAN). This 2.4GHz wireless mesh network is designed to co-exist with Wi-Fi and is very similar to Zigbee…
Our products use a custom wireless protocol built on IEEE 802.15.4 which not only uses very little energy but also allows our Socket Outlets to communicate with each other via a meshing system. Therefore the range can be extended to cover a large area, provided that each device is within range of a connected Socket Outlet. We recommend placing the Hub in a central part of the house and then placing the first set of sockets within 15 meters of the Hub. Further sockets and switches can then be installed within 15 meters of each other.
We asked Den of there are any plans to integrate with Zigbee devices and they told us…
Den uses a custom protocol that is not interoperable with Zigbee systems. We are very much aware that IoT without integrations and ecosystem partnerships is a false start and we are keen to support a number of commonly used platforms in the future, just like we support Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
Each individual socket outlet contains power consumption monitors, so you can see how much energy each appliance is using. Power consumption for the Den devices themselves is less than 1.0 Watt for the sockets and less than 0.4 Watt for their light switches.
You’ll need Internet access to reach the Den Cloud service for the initial system setup and to control the system when you are away from your house. However once inside your home the system can work without the Cloud connection providing you’re on the same network.
Flick of a Switch
Perhaps the most interesting USP of the Den system is how its 2-way communication is implemented.
With other systems there can be confusion as physical switches and their status in an app or other control software can get out of sync. However, with Den the physical switch actually flicks on the wall too as you operate it remotely. This is accomplished with magnets via their patented technology.
The click sound the switches make maybe the only slight downside of this idea, although it’s hard to gauge how loud it is from watching the videos below.
The wall mount modules require a 35mm back box and a 10 mm adapter is included with each Light Switch and Socket Outlet so you’re still ok if you only have a 25mm boxes.
With the Den app you can schedule your lights to turn on and off at certain times. You can also set up multiple timers and schedules per day, for each appliance and Light Switch. We asked if there are any future plans for a more feature rich app that will be paid for or have in-app purchase etc?
We are working on adding more features to our app that will be announced soon – we may begin charging for more premium features in the future.
We then asked if there are any future pans for a subscription fee for the Cloud service?
Possibly in the future, however anyone who buys our products before we publicise that will not need to pay if we do start charging.
Den Smart Tags are a novel feature that use a thin overlay that sits on the prongs of your plug to identify the appliance that’s in use.
They appear to use NFC / RFID and we asked Den to explain more…
Den Smart Tags are used to identify and keep track of an appliances and its location, even if it moves around the house in and out of various Den Sockets. The Smart Tags use a similar technology to the one found in contactless payment or Oyster cards, they communicate with our Den Sockets. They are the perfect solution to accurately identify the location of your appliances even when they move around.
Checking the FAQ it seems that a neutral wire is not required for the current modules.
Our switches will be direct replacements for your existing light switches and work with standard UK lighting circuits. We use novel and proprietary technology which means that we don’t require a neutral wire in the back box. However, there is an Earth Terminal on the Light Switch that needs to be connected to an Earth wire, in order for the Light Switch to function.
We asked Den if their new Smart Dimmer Switch, promised for Q2 2019, will require a neutral, but they would only say…
We will be publishing final dimmer specs in the coming weeks
The latest round of funding for Den saw a £2M investment (bringing the total to £5M) and the company says the money will be used to bring further integrations to the system.
The latest round of funding will be used in the production of the next range of devices for the home, which will include Den’s Smart Dimmer Switches as well as the entire range with chromed metal finishes. Funds will also be used to expand operations and the team, to enable further product integrations such as Homekit and explore opportunities with further integrations like IFTTT.
We asked Den if there was any ETA for the IFTTT and HomeKit integration?
No ETA, our team is hard at work on HomeKit which is substantially more complex than other integrations and we will be announcing other ecosystem partnerships in the future.
The current product range includes…
- Light switches – from £39.95
- Dual Socket outlets – £69.95
- Den Smart Remote – £29.95
- Den Motion Sensor – £34.95
- Den Smart Hub – £89.95
- Starter pack – from £219.95
Den believes that it is their combination of conventional switching along with wireless operation that will be key to their success and they hold a European patent for this feature.
Their products are available to buy at Amazon, YESSS, CEF, Edmundsons, BEW and Electric Centre. Check out the links and the videos below for more info.
How to Install Den Smart Light Switch