The smart home has come a long way since the Clapper. 3 start-ups smart home products show their smarts on air quality, water usage and pets.
The subject of ever-present, laughable infomercials when it introduced wireless control into many of our lives in 1985, the Clapper was one of the first commercially available smart home products. Just plug it into an outlet, plug your lights into the clapper, clap twice —and viola! Sound activates light.
Thirty-three years later, we have a whole suite of wireless smart home devices that allow us to control our thermostat, locks, lights and outlets as well as collect data on air quality, power consumption and temperature.
The age of the smart home has truly arrived. Amazon Echo dominated sales during the past holiday gift season. Millions of homes are connected to the web via the Echo’s virtual assistant, Alexa, or the Google Home.
Consumers are comfortable with connected technology and are not afraid to control devices in the home with their phones. Big-box stores carry a multitude of devices; many of the more obvious products for connected technology such as lights, climate control and locks have been developed and are commercially available. These breakthrough products have paved the way for a new generation of smart devices to help us keep our properties safe from damage and keep our families healthier.
These three startups hope to become the next staples of the smart home environment.
Breezi Air Pulse
Although the Nest thermostat is great for controlling the climate inside the home, it does little to tell us about the health of our HVAC system. Tim Seaton and Tommi Parkkila, founders of Breezi, recognized that hole in the marketplace and developed a device called the AirPulse that notifies homeowners of clogged filters and can prevent costly and unnecessary HVAC repairs.
AirPulse is a simple device that is inserted into the face of an HVAC air filter. The so-called “fitness tracker for HVAC systems” measures pressure variances across a home’s air filter to detect clogged filters. The device (suggested retail price: $50) communicates via Bluetooth to a user’s smartphone when filters need changing, and can be linked to the user’s Amazon account to order filters automatically. The device, currently in beta testing, is scheduled to be available to consumers sometime this year.
The AirPulse resulted from frustration with the state of smart home products. The founders felt that most smart home devices were just gadgets that did not add value for the homeowner. “You can only have so many light bulbs that change a million colors,” Seaton said. “I felt like we could create a product that adds some IQ points to the smart home.”
Minimizing home water usage is a perennial issue for homeowners. This is especially true as more regions have been affected by drought in the past decade. The Buoy smart water device helps monitor home water usage and can shut off the water if it detects a problem.
The submarine-shaped device ties into your home’s water line between the main shutoff valve and your home. It monitors water flow and reports usage to your smart phone via Wi-Fi. The Buoy app allows you to monitor daily and long-term water usage and where it is being used, so you can improve your water-use habits.
The Buoy also can help prevent damage to your home with a built-in valve that can shut off water to the house in case of an emergency. The app alerts homeowners if an abnormally high amount of water is being used and sends an alert to the user’s phone. A button on the app cuts the water flow and helps prevent damage. The Buoy is available for $799, including installation by a professional plumber.
Our pets are a part of our families. We love, care and pamper them with everything from gourmet food to designer clothes. However, aside from regular checkups, we often overlook their health and well-being. Are they eating well? Are they overweight? Do they get enough exercise? Studies estimate that more than half of all pets are overweight or obese, which can lead to health problems.
The Petrics suite of products—including a connected pet bed, activity tracker and app— allows dog and cat owners to keep a watchful eye on their companions. The team started by launching a comprehensive pet food app, in which data on more than 15,000 different pet foods were aggregated and analyzed. Users can input their pet’s info (breed, age, weight), and the app matches appropriate food options while allowing the user to order food directly from the app.
The Petrics team supplemented its app with the development of a smart pet bed and activity tracker to get real-time pet health data. The bed has sensors that record your pet’s weight and how long it sleeps. It also monitors the animal’s temperature and provides climate control to ensure it has optimal sleeping conditions.
The system includes an activity-tracking collar that records data on the activity of your pet and provides feedback to the Petrics app. The systems, launching early this year, will cost between $100 and $300 (depending on the size of the bed). The activity tracker can be purchased and used separately.
“We created the pet bed to fill a gap in pet wellness and care—which is the tracking of weight on a consistent basis, and providing a system to report weight findings as well as the detection of health issues from fluctuations of the weight for early detection and intervention,” Petrics CEO Ed Hall said in an email to GamesBeat.