Right now, smart-home technology — part of the so-called “Internet of things” movement — isn’t attracting a broad user base. The founder of a New York-based start-up with a focus on inventions wants to change that.
“The Internet of things is still for hackers, early adopters and rich people,” Quirky CEO Ben Kaufman recently told The New York Times.
Quirky, at first glance, looks like an invention company: It crowdsources and then selects promising inventions for product development, while partnering with large businesses like General Electric and Home Depot to get the products made and sold. Now it’s expanding its vision to more fully engage with Internet-connected home products consumers can control from a smartphone. To sync up the various types of tech currently used in smart-home devices, the company is developing software that will make it easier to corral and control smart devices using one app. The offshoot of Quirky responsible for the software gymnastics is called Wink.
Though Quirky was founded in 2009, the company’s had a successful start. The Times reports its revenues should reach $100 million in 2014. That’s partly thanks to its partnerships with more established brands, like GE, Home Depot and other popular start-ups, like Uber. The company went all-out while launching its new air conditioner, Aros, last month. The $300 unit, developed by Columbia, Md. resident and former Department of Energy staffer Garthen Leslie, called Aros, was created with GE. It lets users control their A/C more efficiently, because they can track their usage and adjust it or turn it off from anywhere using a smartphone.
When the product launched, Quirky partnered with Uber in New York to sell and hand-deliver it to city residents via ice cream trucks.
Wink is one of several attempts to streamline smart-home tech so it’s easier and more seamless for the user. We’ve written about Apple’s debut of HomeKit, but there’s also a competing software initiative from Nest and other hubs, like the one Wink sells, that can synthesize data transmissions from every type of transmitting technology used in smart-home devices. That way, if one device uses WiFi and the other uses Bluetooth to communicate, it all goes through the hub and gets translated into the same thing controllable from a smartphone. What Nest, HomeKit and other hubs don’t have is Quirky’s inventor-friendly platform.
This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a_start-up_wants_to_make_smart_homes_more_accessible_to_everyone/8647
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