iDevices Instinct impressions: A smart wall switch that’s Alexa-powered

If there’s one thing that we learned from watching Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, it was that we couldn’t trust artificial intelligence-powered systems like HAL 9000. But you know what? The reality is that we’ve slowly been inviting virtual assistants into our homes via a myriad of smart speakers for several years now. Devices like the Amazon Echo are incredibly useful, especially as the A.I. behind them continues to become smarter.

Connected home brand iDevices is bringing the virtual assistant experience into the home with the Instinct, a wall switch that’s powered by Amazon Alexa and represents the marriage between an Echo Dot and your standard wall switch. You may ask why would anyone want to have Alexa integrated into a wall switch of all things, but you’ll be surprised by what this connected gadget has to offer.

Adequate audio quality

Many of us already own some sort of smart speaker, so what would compel someone to consider the iDevices Instinct? At $100, the Instinct is considerably more expensive than the 3rd-gen Dot, and that alone may be enough to turn people off. Then again, it leverages all the same features found in the aforementioned speaker, as well as several others.

idevices instinct impressions review 1
John Velasco/Digital Trends

First off, you can initiate Alexa and ask her all sorts of questions (and play tunes). Being a wall switch, we were skeptical about its audio quality, but Alexa’s responses are clear and discernible. While it certainly can’t compete with a Dot when it comes to audio playback — especially when playing music — it’s still better than most smartphones, and it doesn’t sound shrill or irritating at high volumes.

Now, if you’re paranoid about privacy, you can quickly mute the Instinct by pressing the dedicated mute button on the switch. At the same time, you won’t need to worry about initiating the Instinct when uttering Alexa’s name because it’ll activate if it’s the closest Alexa device thanks to the integrated far-field microphones.

Useful home automation

Beyond functioning as a wall switch for turning lights on and off, the other thing we like about the Instinct is that the customizable LED in the middle of the unit not only emulates the Echo-style light ring, but it can be used as a night-light. There are also motion and light sensors that help to expand its functionality and allow it to integrate with some of your existing smart home automation.

idevices instinct impressions review 4
John Velasco/Digital Trends

Take, for example, any automation you might set up while you’re at work. The Instinct can perform a host of routines while you’re away, allowing you to monitor motion in your home and automatically dim the lights as the sun goes down, among other things. The added blanket of security that it provides also makes it versatile, seeing as the motion sensors can be useful not only for detecting intruders, but as a way to keep tabs on elderly family members who may be immobilized due to an unexpected accident. If no movement is detected by the Instinct, then it’d be a good idea to check in on them.

Price and availability

The Instinct is available now for $100 through the manufacturer’s website or Amazon. Just remember that some installation is required, so if you’re not comfortable with swapping out your old wall switch for this one, you may want to consider using Amazon’s Home Services for help with installation.

Conclusion

The smart speaker invasion has made it possible for just about anyone to turn their home into a smart home. With that in mind, the iDevices Instinct is a promising addition for those looking to expand their smart home capabilities beyond the confines of their living room and bedroom. As you can imagine, the Instinct is yet another connected smart home to consider – nor will it be the last! That, of course, poses an over-saturation problem that can inherently cause more distraction.

Most smart speakers are generally situated in major rooms such as these, but the Instinct can best serve its purpose in hallways and entryways. Harnessing the power of Alexa to control your home is wonderful, and the other sensors in the Instinct will give you another layer of security. If you have trust in inviting yet another connect device into your home, then it may be worth having the Instinct right there waiting for as soon as you enter the front door. The possibilities are endless when you consider the number of routines you can leverage by adding any of the 90,000 Alexa skills that are available.

Editors' Recommendations