Smoke detectors may have already gotten their first connected upgrade thanks to the Nest Protect, but two startups think they’ve got a better idea, and both offer devices that are cheaper than upgrading a home with multiple smoke detectors to a $99 Nest Protect. There’s apparently a market. A study last May by iControl found that among those surveyed, 60 percent wanted to start their journey to the connected home with a connected smoke alarm.
Essentially, people would like to get a text or a call if they’re out and their house is on fire. Both Leeo, a stealthy startup that has raised $37 million to build connected products for different geographic markets and Roost, a startup founded by a low-power Wi-Fi guru have tackled the connected smoke detector in different ways.
Roost: A better battery for old devices
Roost, a startup founded by former Ozmo Devices CEO Roel Peeters, has a compelling take on the connected smoke alarm built out of what looks like a traditional 9-volt battery. For between $35 and $25 (the more you buy the more you save) consumers buy the Roost Smart Battery that is packed with sensors and Wi-Fi module, yet fits in the existing 9-volt battery slot.
The battery measures how much power is left in the battery so you can get a notifications via the Roost app when the smoke detector’s battery is about to run out. By the way, the Roost battery is supposed to last 5 years. The Roost battery also detects the sound of the smoke detector going off, which means that when your alarm sounds it sends you a text or phone call. The Roost will be available in the second quarter of next year.
I’m pretty darn excited about this product in part because it will let consumers do something familiar –replace their battery — and get the benefits of connecting their smoke detector without buying a whole new gadget. I’m also excited about the prospect of low-power Wi-Fi modules and expect the Roost guys to expand the concept outside of the smoke detector eventually. You can see the Roost at the Garage@Connect at our Structure Connect event on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Leeo adds a colorful night-light
If replacing a battery isn’t your style or maybe you want to get a new device, the designers at Leeo have combined their smoke alarm detection device with a night-light. The night-light includes LEDs and can glow in 16 million colors that you can set via an app, but it also has a temperature and humidity sensor that could come in handy for other purposes like helping your thermostat control the temperature inside your house.
And of course, it has a noise sensor that listens for a smoke alarm and then sends the alert via a phone call to a set list of numbers you provide in the app. The Leeo costs $99 but you only need one per floor on average. The app experience is nice but is so far only available for iOS devices. My daughter liked the fact that you could change the colors on the night light and I liked the easy install. I just plugged it in.
In my house, I have five smoke detectors spread over two floors, so the Roost probably makes more sense from a cost perspective. Both of these devices let you keep your existing smoke alarms, which is probably an easier sell since a smoke alarm is something you generally hope you don’t have to use, making it hard to justify spending a fortune replacing them just to get a bit of connectivity.