Control & Automation

25 Home Automation Projects on Crowdfunding: A Roundup

How 25 smart home projects are faring on Kickstarter and elsewhere: smart bulbs, smart locks, energy management and other home automation devices

Voice-enabled home control alarm clock from Ivee gets funded. How about these other 21 projects? Skip straight to the gallery if you want to view the pictures and summaries simultaneously.

Photos & Slideshow

Julie Jacobson · July 10, 2013

Some of the biggest home automation buzz in the past year has its roots in crowdfunding, where practically any idea can generate attention and possibly money for a new project.

So how is crowdfunding faring for the smart home, including lighting control, energy management, smart bulbs, smart locks and other smart devices?

A few of the projects from Kickstarter, Indiego and other crowdfunding sites have continued to gain momentum from their launches, but so far we haven’t seen any wild success stories in the home control categories.

Most of the successfully funded companies are still in the preorder phase, if that, and countless others have simply fallen off the radar.

For example, the speech-recognition pod Ubi was funded in Sept. 2012, with an expected ship date of Feb. 2013. The company is now expecting to ship products this fall. Likewise, the smart switch from Luminode, funded in 2012, was to ship Jan. 2013 but today is still trying to get UL certification.

Regardless, the launches, successes and failures in the various smart-home categories are good barometers of the future of home automation

Here is a survey of the offerings and some random thoughts about the prospects.

Note: This information is replicated in the slideshow, so if you want to skim through the pics and the summaries at once, head straight to the gallery.

Smart Bulbs and Light Switches

This category seems already to be exhausted. We rounded up 13 smart bulbs earlier this year and more continue to crop up. There’s nothing particularly interesting in the newcomers, except for Lumenplay (below), which plans to launch strings of individually controllable lights – perfect (but expensive) for the holidays.

See: 13 Smart LED Bulbs: The Future of Lighting Control?

Here are a few that we haven’t already covered, and some that we have:

Lumenplay from Rigado (image)
Smart RGB lighting strands, ideal for Xmas decorations, but pricey at $90 MSRP for a 10-foot strand of 15 controllable lights and $125 for a 20-foot strand. A spokesperson says that the street price will mostly come in at the “early bird” crowdfunding price of $54 and $79, respectively.

Luminode from Think Automatic (image)
IP-enabled switches with a handful of drivers already developed for such systems as GE/Interlogix security panels and Insteon gateway.

  • Funded on Kickstarter 8/2012: $36k of $35k goal
  • Status: Originally expected to ship Jan. 2013 but still in UL testing

Vivave (image)
Networked RGB lighting solution for smart LED strips

SmartElectric Smart Bulb (image)
Mostly a me-too smart bulb, but with some added features such as auto-dimming, auto-off, four-level dimming, and emergency flashing

Ube (image)
This Internet-connected light switch, with a cloud model that incorporates advertising, was all the rage when former CEDIA CEO Utz Baldwin launched Ube in October 2012. The product went on to win the top prize at Demo 2012. The project failed in its first overly ambitious attempt at crowdfunding but succeeded the second time with smaller goals and, we are told, better outside backing.

Spark Socket from Spark Devices (image)
WiFi-connected light socket with RGB controls - a smarter approach than smart bulbs, but funders didn’t seem to agree.

LIFX (image)
WiFi-enabled (IoT) smart LED bulbs with RGB controls, which for some reason received more than $1M in funding.

Home Automation Systems & Platforms

Must of the success stories in automation crowdfunding have come from single-purpose devices such as Internet-enabled lights, but several companies are taking a stab at launching complete systems and platforms.

Concierge Solutions Epiphany (image)
This rather traditional home control system claims to be different by letting users select their own hardware. In other words, it’s a software-based home automation system that runs on multiple platforms, enabling integration of “real” security, lighting and other subsystems.

Almond+ Securifi (image)
We liked what we saw at CES 2013 with Securifi, a nice 802.11ac router with GUI, and a home automation controller via Wi-Fi, ZigBee and Z-Wave. I’ll take one for $99.

Ivee (image)
This WiFi voice control alarm clock enables such silliness as “Read me a bedtime story, please” and “What’s the weather going to be like in New York on Friday?” But it also is an IoT controller, allowing users to interact with the usual slate of IoT devices from Belkin WeMo, Fitbit and the others.


Prizm Home Hub by Frostdale (image)
Z-Wave- and IP-enabled alarm clock that would serve as hub of a whole-house control system. Cute, but it’s no Ivee or Securifi!

WigWag (image)
As I wrote earlier, I think this IoT-enabled multi-sensor hub with if/then engine is probably the way home automation will look in the next few years.

SmartThings (image)
Little more than an Internet of Things hub with an open API for home automation, it just so happens that this little IoT device has gained some traction and people are writing modules for it. It also features on-board ZigBee and Z-Wave. Expect to pay $5 to $10 per month for SmartThing services.

Home Security, Smart Door Locks, Access Control

We’ve seen a lot of smart locks lately – even more than the nine I wrote about after CES. This is a killer category, or at least it will be when prices come down. $200+ is a little much to stomach for the average homeowner. In the meantime, innovators are hoping to fund other security products including DIY alarm systems and advanced access control.

See: Automated Door Locks Flood CES 2013: How Smart are They?

iSmartAlarm (image)
DIY security in a nice little form factor, with promises of home automation in the future

  • Funded on Indiegogo 4/2013: $225 of $50k goal
  • Status: Indiegogo products shipping in batches, taking preorders (update 7/10/2013: product now shipping in real-time)

Decoris Squaritz (image)
Security, Z-Wave automation and access control system has a slick UI and some clever features.

Kisi (image)
Smart door locks/cloud-based access control. Frankly, I don’t really understand it by the description and pictures, which is perhaps why it didn’t get funding.

  • Failed on Indiegogo 2013:  $10k of $20k goal
  • Status: Taking preorders, est. delivery Q4 2013

Goji Smart Lock (image)
This lock has been lauded as one of the smartest on the (some-day) market, with its built-in camera and Nest-like design.

Lockitron by Apigy  (image)
IoT-enabled retrofit deadbolt lock powered by Arduino - We liked this one at CES 2013 because it attached directly over an existing deadbolt.

Misc. Smart-Home Devices

SMS home automation (image)
Sends text messages upon alarm events, for example, burst pipes. Poor guy needs a little help in the marketing department and the project is not looking hopeful.

iCelsius (image)
Low-energy WiFi temperature sensors for such applications as cooking, health and environment.

Ubi (image)
Android-based speech-recognition pod for IoT devices with an open API

  • Funded on Kickstarter 9/2012: $230k of $36k goal
  • Status: Originally expected to ship Feb. 2013, now taking preorders with est. delivery fall 2013

Pinoccio (image)
Tiny Arduino microcontroller with 802.15.4, WiFi shield, temperature sensor, Micro SD slot - just $50 in modest quantities; this is the future

  • Funded on Indiegogo 2/2013: $105k of $60k goal
  • Status: Originally expected to ship 7/2013; not taking preorders

Sonte (image)
WiFi/Z-Wave controllable window film or “digital shades” – I liked the prospects at CES 2013, and I currently have a demo unit that I’ll write about soon.

Keen Home (image)
Since I posted this piece about KeenVent smart HVAC registers, I’ve heard from a couple others that are working on a similar approach to energy management. Keep your eyes on the category.

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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at

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  Article Topics

Control & Automation · Lighting · Universal Remotes · Security · News · Media · Slideshow · Crowdfunding · Goji · IoT · iSmartAlarm · Ivee · KeenVent · All Topics
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