Forget Fitness, Misfit Flash Link Could Be A Smart Home Essential

Misfit hasn't only made one of the cheapest fitness wearables around, the Misfit Flash Link could well end up a must-have for the smart home. The $19.99 health tracker announced today is designed to clip to a wristband, belt, or other item of clothing, and funnel movement stats into your phone. All the same, for anybody with more than a toe dipped into home automation its potential as an affordable way to address one of the lingering frustrations after you've upgraded to wireless lights, appliances, and more, is clear.

That's because Flash Link isn't just positioned solely as a wearable, but as a wearable button.

To give Misfit its due, the Flash Link isn't the first of the company's products to tackle home automation. An update earlier this year added broad smart home control to the existing Shine and Flash wearables, in fact, and they're already doing what Flash Link now does too.

What I think makes Flash Link special is the price. At $19.99, it's the cheapest "smart button" option I can think of for home automation purposes.

The modern smart home needs more buttons. That might sound counter-intuitive given the wealth of features smartphone, tablet, and smartwatch apps offer. All the same, even when you have your lighting controls on your Apple Watch or Android Wear timepiece, there are times you simply want to stab at a button and have the lamps turn on.

Weirdly, then, there are very few actual physical controls on offer out there. Philips' has its hue tap switch, but it's expensive and still only integrates with hue lights (there are glimmers of a potentially cheaper remote in the pipeline, but nothing official yet). Flic showed off a multipurpose Bluetooth button back at CES, but it's yet to ship and costs a fair amount more than Flash Link does.

Misfit's dip into the smart home isn't quite there yet: IFTTT support would be the obvious glue to hook it up to other automation products, but that's not yet a feature of the Misfit Link app, though we're told it's on the way. At present, it can't even control Misfit's own Bolt wireless bulb though, again, that's said to be on the roadmap.

I don't want to clip Flash Link to my belt and track steps. I want to stick it to the wall by the front door and have it work as a programable light switch, or on my nightstand to turn on the coffee pot when I wake up, or in the kitchen as a simple way to kick-start a Sonos playlist.

Yes, I'll need some sort of device acting as a hub for every Misfit button I use, but like many people I already have a tablet for the coffee table that can do double-duty there.

Short-term, my hope is that Misfit pushes the remote control side of Flash Link and makes it easier for third-party smart home device manufacturers to hook into it. Longer-term, I'm looking forward to some bright spark of a company to spot the gap in the smart home market and deliver a range of controls. For the moment, though, Flash Link may well suffice.