While there is a ton of excitement around the connected home, it’s still very much a distant proposition for the mainstream consumer. I believe that by next year a majority of consumers will have one or more connected device in their homes, although I suspect it will be a single-use device like a connected thermostat or lights.
So this week, when I stopped by the O’Reilly Solid conference to check out the connected devices I kept my eyes peeled for the latest innovations aimed at the home. A few I had already covered, such as the Birdi air quality monitoring system that is expected in October or the Zuli bluetooth plugs that offer presence detection, which should also ship in the fall time frame (there are a lot of fall ship dates, y’all.)
But I also ran into three new startups that were worth a second look. The first, Xandem, is currently making a presence sensor that uses wireless signals to understand where in the house a person is. It’s currently sold commercially as a more accurate motion detector (it works in the dark, when an infrared motion detector can be fooled). But Dustin Maas, the CTO and I discussed how it might be used for detecting presence in the home for people who aren’t currently carrying or wearing a bluetooth device. One challenge will be interference from other networks, Maas, says it works with Wi-Fi, but running four or five different networks might make it a bit less effective. I like it because it helps solve the problem of detecting kids or other people in the house that aren’t carrying smart phones or Bluetooth devices.
For others who want to ditch their smart phones, but don’t mind wearing a Bluetooth enabled bracelet, Playtabase has built a system of a bracelet and receivers that you can plug into your lamps, TVs or other appliances and then use the bracelet as a gesture-based controller. So wave your arm and twist your wrist to turn things on, adjust volume or even start and stop video playback. The system is called Reemo, and the wearable is designed to work as both a home controlling device and a mouse worn on the wrist. This is to entice you to wear it all the time. The device should be available in the fall and should cost about $200 for a wristband and three receivers.
Also in the home space, were a set of six sensors and a hub that cost $299 but are pretty good deal when compared to the cost of buying those sensors individually. The Wally system’s point of differentiation is that the sensors will last for 10 years on one coin cell battery and that instead of using a radio for communications, they actually gain their power efficiencies by instead sending their information via the electrical wiring system in your home. The sensors use a radio to reach the homes’ wiring, and then transmit the information to the hub, which is plugged into the wall. The software then lets you set thresholds for moisture and temperature so you can get alerts when something is amiss.
All in all, I’m pretty keen to test many of the devices coming out this fall and fully expect the holidays this year to be the year that a majority of people get a connected present of some sort.