Nanoleaf Remote: A Novel Way to Control Your Smart Home

As the Apple HomeKit-compliant ecosystem continues to expand, I am always on the lookout for new and innovative approaches to using the home automation technology in novel and useful ways. It appears that the designers of the Nanoleaf Remote ($49.99) are inspired by the same intentions as their product embodies nearly all the aspects that I am interested in exploring. But do innovative design equate to practical daily use? Read on to find out.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

Related: Review: Nanoleaf Canvas Light Panels Offer Unlimited Creativity

The Nanoleaf Remote is a softball-sized translucent dodecahedron (a 12-sided pentagon-shaped geometric design) that reminds me of a giant Dungeons and Dragons die. Two AA batteries inserted into a central harness power not only the HomeKit-enabled radio but also a multi-colored LED that illuminates a range of colors depending on the side the Remote is rotated to as well as the commands it receives from other devices.

Once paired with your HomeKit environment, the Nanoleaf Remote can have each of its 12 sides assigned various actions or scenes that have been defined in your Home app. For example, I assigned turning my Philips Hue-powered bedside lamp on to side 1 of the Remote and conversely turn off that light when the Remote is rotated to side 12. I assigned a variety of other actions to the other sides, such as turning on and off fans, light strips, and power outlets.

Assigning HomeKit actions and scenes to the Nanoleaf Remote can be done by a number of HomeKit-capable apps including the free Nanoleaf Smarter Series app.  Once assigned, triggering actions is as simple as rotating the Remote to the proper side. Unfortunately, it does not yet appear in the version of the app I tested to be able to assign specific colors to each side. Hopefully this capability can come in a future update as it would be a helpful visual indicator to be reminded of what action is triggered based on the user-defined color assigned to that side.

Nanoleaf Remote Scenes

While I personally prefer calling upon Siri to activate my HomeKit scenes, I do recognize the appeal of wirelessly triggering these scenes via a more tactile approach. One could even make a game of HomeKit roulette by rolling the Remote and allowing it to trigger whatever action or scene was assigned to the side it ended upon.

Pros

  • Up to 12 HomeKit-defined actions or scenes can be assigned to the Remote.
  • Easy to configure and use.
  • Relatively inexpensive.

Cons

  • Somewhat unremarkable if you are not interested in tactile triggers.
  • Lighting cannot currently be assigned different colors based on side placement.

Final Verdict

If you are looking for a novel way to turn on or off your HomeKit devices, the Nanoleaf Remote fulfills that requirement.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.
Mike Riley's picture

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.