Just a couple of weeks back, we reported on the forthcoming Aqara E1 Roller Driver being added to the Aqara app’s list of compatible devices. Now the E1 has been officially launched in Mainland China on the Xiaomi affiliated store Xiaomi Youpin, for the introductory price of ¥249 (regular price ¥319).
If you’re not familiar with this device, it’s essentially what is known as a retrofit product, meaning you add it to existing hardware (your roller blinds in this case) to add smart functionality to them. The Aqara E1 Roller Driver works in much the same way as other products do on the market, by pulling on the chain connected to your roller blinds and pulling them either up or down, to open or close the blinds. The other product currently on the market that does this job is by Soma, although their product – the Soma Smart Shades 2 – isn’t officially compatible with HomeKit, instead, relying on the company’s bridge to get the motor exposed to HomeKit (unofficially). The E1 uses Zigbee 3.0, and so uses an Aqara Hub (M1S etc) in order to expose it to HomeKit. The E1 uses a lithium battery and can be recharged via the USB-C port, using the included USB-C cable.
The E1 will come with four different cogs to accommodate different types of cords that you would find used with many roller blinds, with the E1 also suitable for Venetian blinds, although it wouldn’t be able to tilt them. The E1 also comes with on-device controls for quick access, should you prefer not to get your phone out, or can’t shout an instruction to Siri, so it does have a lot of control that’s missing on the Soma.
Whilst the E1 can work with both Aqara Home and Apple Home platforms, the Chinese model will also work with Mi Home. The proposed international version should work with HomeKit, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa if their other products are anything to go by.
Whilst the launch is only for Mainland China at present, it’s quite likely the E1 will be released internationally later, although there’s no official word on that at present, and therefore no mention of a price in Euros or US dollars.