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 Alarm.com 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.

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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.

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