Zuli raises $1.65M for smart plugs that know where you are in your home

TaylorUmphreys

Zuli, a company making a connected outlet with presence detection and energy monitoring, has raised $1.65 million in seed funding from several investors. This follows a successful Kickstarter launched in December that raised $175,341. Zuli plans to ship the resulting products by late October or early November this year.

Zuli has a pretty cool idea to make a connected outlet a bit more interesting for smart home aficionados. The company uses proprietary software that creates a Bluetooth mesh network. The Bluetooth 4.1 standard that also offers this has been released, but chipmakers haven’t yet implemented it. Thus, if you want a Bluetooth mesh network, Zuli and a similar effort by CSR are the primary places to get it.

Taylor Umphries (pictured above) the co-founder and CEO of Zuli, says the company plans to take advantage of its mesh technology either in other products made by Zuli or via some kind of license or use by other smart home device makers interested in the Bluetooth mesh concept. One of the values of such a mesh is that it offers presence detection for people who have three or more Zuli outlets spread throughout their home. They essentially act like beacons, communicating where a person is in relation to the plugs.

The Zuli smart outlet.

The Zuli smart outlet.

Since presence is such an essential feature for the development of context-aware applications and services, Zuli has a product — or a technology — that’s pretty interesting. Now, it has investors that include Menlo Ventures, Winklevoss Capital, Logitech, DeNA, XG Ventures, FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols, and Hossein Eslambolchi, former CTO of AT&T.

Zuli also announced it has established a development partnership with design firm Astro Studios, designers of the Nike FuelBand and Xbox 360. Presumably this means future products should continue to be attractive and well designed for use in people’s homes.

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