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Summary:

UBE is yet another internet of things startups, but one with a compelling message. Use its app to control any IP-connected device in your home for fun and to conserve energy.

UBE founders Glen Buchers and Utz Baldwin.
photo: UBE

Those of you with multiple connected devices but no way to integrate them under one app might want to consider supporting UBE. The Austin, Texas startup launched an Indiegogo campaign on Wednesday that aims to take any IP-connected device and let you control it from a smartphone.

As the number of connected devices in a person’s home rises, it’s becoming apparent that the number of apps they have to use to control those devices increases as well. But UBE, which is launching a smart dimmer as well as an application, wants you to run all of your connected devices on their app. It will work with the WeMo, Wi-Fi connected TVs, consoles and a variety of other devices, says Glen Burchers of UBE.

ube“So if you want to connect your TV and lights, then when you sit down to watch TV, you can dim your lights,” Explains Burchers about what the app and Smart Dimmer can do. “Or you can set up your AC to raise or lower when you turn on the Kinect to do yoga.”

Setting the “scene” for home automation.

The CEO and cofounder of UBE comes from the high-end home automation industry where people hire companies to program certain “scenes” associated with living in a highly automated home. So when your garage door opens, your lights could turn on and music might play softly. The UBE app hopes to enable consumers to create these same scenarios using the UBE app and whatever IP-enabled device is out there.

usageIt also hopes to use the tools to build ways to track energy consumption and then adapt the home’s lighting and other devices to conserve power. While, not exactly demand-response, since the homeowner is setting it up, the idea is that people will want to conserve if they have the tools to make it easy. And while UBE is building many of these apps, it’s keeping an open API so others can build devices and apps to work with the gear.

After the SmartDimmer the company has plans to release a wall plug if its Indiegogo campaign is successful.

The internet of things has a new funding model

UBE was founded in April last year and has so far raised $300,000 in seed funding as well as a $1 million check from winning the People’s Choice Award at the DEMO conference. The company has chosen to use Indiegogo to raise $700,000 to help fund production and to score customers ahead of raising a later round of venture funding at a better valuation.

That strategy is becoming a more common theme as it becomes easier to launch a hardware startup thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, 3-D printing and platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. But another reason is that venture capitalists are eager to put money into companies pitching themselves as internet of things plays, while also being aware that the competition this realm consists of giant household consumer brands and hundreds of other startups.

Thus, VCs are both eager to invest — or listen — but they also want to see some traction before they invest and they tend to offer lower valuations based on what I’ve been told by entrepreneurs (although I take that with a grain of salt). So for UBE, it decided that before taking venture funds it wanted to try the market with a prototype and its story.

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  1. Glen Burchers Friday, February 8, 2013

    Thanks for the story, Stacy. Glen Burchers

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