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Korner aims to make cheap sensors a reality for the smart home

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Home security is one of the gateway services to a smart home, which is one reason iControl purchased the maker of Piper a few weeks ago, and why companies such as and ADT are getting pushing into the smart home market with new products. But between the old and the new, Steve Hollis, the CEO of Korner thinks there is a market.

He’s just launched an Indiegogo campaign on Tuesday to help get people excited about the idea and find backers for the project.

His Seattle, Wash.-based team has built an all-in-one open/close sensor that people can place on doors and windows. The design of the sensor is unique in that it measures the door opening and closing, without requiring two parts. Together, three of these sensors, one fob to bridge the sensors’ radio network to Wi-Fi and the app cost $99. That’s an crazy low price point for a DIY security product that basically lets you know if a door or window has opened. The app is fancier than that, letting you establish trusted contacts that alarms can escalate to, much like a higher-end monitoring service from a professional alarm company.

Hollis explains that the goal behind Korner, was to bring the cost of security down to a level that everyone could truly afford it and install it. I like the simplicity the project offers — it fits within my mantra of buying products that solve a particular pain point as opposed to a system that tries to be everything.

Tag & Fob Back

I’m curious though how Korner plans to take the product past the Indiegogo campaign. Hollis says that while Indiegogo backers will get free service and access to the app in perpetuity, people who end up buying Korner when it hits the market at the end of this year or early next will likely buy a $59 package with a $39 annual service fee. Hollis thinks that the app itself is a potential source of a lot of innovation around neighborhood information.

He says that when people sign up for Korner, they are likely to include a neighbor as a potential contact to escalate alarms to. As they do this, buyers introduce their neighbors to the product. Hollis thinks it’s possible that people with the system will be able to leave messages for their neighbors, creating a kind of local community of information about potential problems, lost animals or whatever else.

I think that’s a nice ideal, but even $100 is still a significant chunk of change to spend on a neighbor’s recommendation — although less than the $200 to $240 for a Piper or Canary –or even more for a monitored service. I’d like to see the sensors used in other kits, although given the subscription model Hollis is going after, it wouldn’t make sense for Korner to license that technology and become merely a hardware provider.

So for those interested in created a DIY security product with a bit of a social aspect to the monitoring, check out Korner. It’s a project worth watching, given the hardware and the subscription model.

9 Responses to “Korner aims to make cheap sensors a reality for the smart home”

  1. There have been plenty of “internet of things” kickstarter and other fundraising campaigns, they just never got funded. The best included water and temperature sensors as well as door, garage door and glass. Eventually one of these will get fully funded, go mainstream, the company acquired by a major player and you’ll get the integration you are looking for.

    In the short term though, meeting a few basic requirements to test out the technology, and the use case is a great way to move forward. Yep there is more I’d like from this, but it’s a useful addition to the bag of parts I already use.

  2. John Todd

    Perhaps I’m stuck in the cheap, distant past but I cannot ever see paying for a service that tells me when windows or doors are opened and doesn’t integrate with any other components that I have in place (what about motion sensors? people tracking? cameras? locks?) The sunk cost in the sensor should be depreciated over 15 or 20 years, not every year. I’d rather have a version that I pay more for but works with whatever HA system I happen to use (assuming it’s Zigbee-ready) and has no yearly service fee. Yet another home automation app on my phone is not what I need. The “Internet of Things” is becoming “The App Store Of Things You Rent From Us”.

  3. Rational Man

    ADT, and other value is that they monitor your home and deal with bad situations. The actual alarm sensor is the least problematic issue.
    Not sure how your neighbor is suppose to understand if your house is being robbed, do they go over to see, putting themselves in jeopardy? That is an super neighbor. Many communities are requiring verification (Many times called video verification) before sending police to investigate as the rate of false alarms is too high. This is the law in the UK. Maybe they should team with DropCam?

    Also as a false alarm is ~$100 fine in many communities, does the home owner or the neighbor pay for a false report?

    • ADT calls the police if there’s an alarm, which your neighbor can also do. ADT also has a chain of folks it can call when an alarm goes off who may or may not elect to see what is happening at the house. For some people, the value of the alarm is more knowing what is happening or has happened as opposed to actually stopping a crime in progress. Those people might consider something like this. The rest can still go to ADT and other monitored alarm companies. I don’t think these are actually competitive, but more an expansion of the market.