3 Cool Home Automation Projects on Crowdfunding: HVAC, IoT, Smart Lights
Crowd-funded home automation projects include smart vents from Keen Home, RGB Christmas lights from Lumenplay, IoT ecosystem from WigWag.
We’ve seen a number of home automation-related projects launch on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Maybe you’ve heard about some of the most talked-about projects such as the Ube Internet-connected switches from former CEDIA CEO Utz Baldwin or the SmartThings hub for enabling the Internet of Things.
Here we recognize a few of the newer projects seeking fame and financing through crowdfunding.
Smart RGB Lighting Strands
We’ve seen a bjillion smart lights launch through crowdfunding, and by now they’re all a little ho hum.
But I like this new one called Lumenplay (shown right), which allows users to control RGB color settings and special effects on a string of lights. Each bulb can be controlled individually.
You can really wow the neighbors at Christmas with these things.
The products are expensive—$90 MSRP for a 10-foot strand of 15 controllable lights; $125 for a 20-foot strand – but they look like fun.
Lumenplay is offering the products for about 40% off the retail price if you fund the company through Crowdsupply.
Status on Crowdsupply: $2,255 pledged of $159,025 goal with 49 days left.
Smart HVAC Vents
Are we going about “smart energy” in an unsmart kind of way by attacking the thermostats?
Keen Home thinks so, and I’m inclined to agree. The company’s new KeenVent system is composed of smart heating and cooling vents that allow users to open, close and redirect them for the most efficient energy usage in any given room and throughout the house.
The company has not picked a communications standard yet, but is looking at ZigBee and low-energy WiFi.
I swear I proposed this solution a few years ago as a practical alternative to HVAC zoning systems – cheap, retrofittable and effective. Why add pricey motors to your dampers when you can mechanize your vents?
When the rest of the house has cleared, and you’re left home alone in your freezing office in Minnesota, wouldn’t it be nice to press a button to close all vents in the house except for yours? Duh.
Well, Keen Home beat me to it, and my money is on them (although it should be on me).
Keen says its vents yield a 30% reduction in runtime of central heating/cooling systems by optimizing air flow.
Keen says it expects to ship products in March 2014 at a suggested retail price of $400 for 6 vents.
Status on Indiegogo: $40k pledged of $40k goal, May 2013
WigWag Sensor Block features humidity sensor, temperature sensor, vibration sensor (accelerometer), motion detector, contact switch, photocell, IR blaster, electronic relay, analog I/O and digital input
Multipurpose Sensor for Internet of Things
I like this home automation concept from WigWag, and I expect to see this paradigm pop up from many vendors in the near future.
Like the newcomer IFTTT (If This Then That), WigWag offers a nice little if-then engine that lets users program simple events such as, If the FitBit scale goes over 220 pounds, Tweet, “Step away from the fries.”
These little rules engines are gaining popularity, but I especially like WigWag’s multipurpose Sensor Block that takes the guesswork out of smart devices.
The palm-sized Block (the prototype, anyway) features a humidity sensor, temperature sensor, vibration sensor (accelerometer), motion detector, contact switch, photocell, IR blaster, electronic relay, analog I/O and digital input and speaker for alerts – and WiFi for communications (ZigBee, Z-Wave and Bluetooth dongles available).
One especially cool feature of the unit is an IR “tripwire” that can be set up between two Blocks to trigger some kind of action if someone crosses the line, so to speak.
The beauty of the Block is that it eliminates SKUs (reduces shelf-space requirements) for retailers and distributors, and takes the guesswork out of building a system. Just buy a dozen Blocks and decide where you want to put them and what you want to do with them.
The company also offers its own connected “Glowline” strip of LEDs.
WigWag backers through Kickstarter can buy a gateway (called a Relay, required for the system) and a single Sensor Block or Glowline for $139; a kit with up to 10 Blocks/Glowlines are available for preorder at $579.
Status on Kickstarter: $77k pledged of $50,000 goal with 51 days to go.
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at email@example.com
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