Webee Promises True ‘Learning’ Home Automation System at CEDIA 2014
Indiegogo-funded Webee says it learns better than Nest, always tracking the home to adjust lights, thermostats, A/V gear, other smart home devices without programming. Debuts at CEDIA Expo 2014.
Julie Jacobson · July 31, 2014 However, much of the system processing occurs at the premises in the Boss hub.
“Our system works even if you’re offline,” Merciel says. “The software is in the device so if you get disconnected, the connected devices can still be managed inside the home. Other systems might not work because all of the intelligence is in the cloud.”
Another unusual feature is A/V control, which is missing from most (all?) of the similar DIY products on the market.
Plugging the Boss into the television via HDMI enables users to browse the Internet or project photos, videos and music onto the big-screen. That’s where the hub’s USB ports and card slot could come into play. Or not. The hub supports DLNA so any DLNA-enabled source can stream content to the TV.
Users can also control their home via the TV interface using Webee’s Air Mouse.
For controlling A/V gear, use the ZigBee-enabled Skipper, a round puck with four built-in IR emitters.
Here’s the kicker: Webee can learn your A/V habits just as it does your temperature preferences.
If you’re used to turning on the news when you come home from work, eventually Webee will pick up on this routine and do the “work” for you.
It’s DIY … Why Exhibit at CEDIA?
Yes, Webee is one of those crowdfunded projects that we may rightly question. These projects usually promise huge feature sets that could take years to materialize, if they materialize at all.
Webee’s Indiegogo campaign ended in February, fetching $73,373 of its $50,000 goal.
It’s a DIY system, to be sure, so why exhibit at CEDIA Expo, the show for home technology integrators?
“Professionals will be interested because our solution is low-coast and very easy to install,” Merciel says.
He thinks the product will enable integrators to “cross barriers to entry” in the residential market, tapping opportunities that today’s products might not allow.
The company is still figuring out its go-to-market strategies, so CEDIA is a good place to gather intelligence.
Products should begin shipping to Indiegogo backers in September. Retail pricing has yet to be established, but the early-adopter price was $99 for the Boss hub and $259 for one hub, two Smart Plugs, one Smart Lamp Holder and one door/window sensor.
All early adopters receive “free service forever,” but we don’t know if retail buyers will receive the same courtesy.
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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 email@example.com
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