Light Reading

5 Smart Home Startups to Watch

Dan Jones
1/15/2014
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Google's planned $3.2 billion buyout of Nest -- revealed this week -- has sparked additional interest in the already hot sector of smart sensors for the home.

With that in mind, Light Reading has picked out five startups that are worth watching in this area. At the very least, Google's surprise buy has given the sector additional credibility and may provoke additional buyouts from rivals looking to keep up with the search giant. (See Google to Buy Nest for $3.2B.)

So here's our pick of the home bodies to watch:

yetu AG, a Berlin-based startup, was founded in 2010 by the former Chief Product and Innovation Officer from Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), Christopher Schläffer, who serves as CEO. The company makes a "smart home platform" that connects various devices with a home gateway and allows developers to create applications for the home across smartphones, tablets, and PCs. The company completed an $8 million funding round late last year, according to CrunchBase.

Dropcam. This San Francisco-based startup raised a whopping $30 million series C round last year to support the growth of its home monitoring WiFi video camera product, which uploads video to the cloud. Founded in 2009, Dropcam CEO Greg Duffy says he got the inspiration for the product when his father was trying to discover which of the neighborhood's dogs was "fertilizing" his yard.

SNUPI Technologies Inc. has just closed a $7.5 million round of funding. It makes the WallyHome sensor system to detect flooding and temperature changes in the home. The startup is based in Seattle and was founded in 2012 by CEO Jeremy Jaech and co-inventors of the technology, professors Shwetak Patel and Matt Reynolds of the University of Washington and University of Washington doctoral student Gabe Cohn. SNUPI Technologies has exclusive license on the technology from the University of Washington and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

tado° is something of a European alternative to Nest. Co-founded in Munich in 2011 by CEO Christian Deilmann, the firm makes a smart thermostat that can be controlled via a smartphone. The company raised $2.6 million in funding in September 2013.

Canary, a New York City startup, has developed a wireless security sensor that connects via WiFi and can be controlled with -- you guessed it! -- a smartphone. Co-founded by CEO Adam Sager, the company can claim the most successful crowd-funding campaign yet on Indiegogo with nearly $2 million raised in just over a month last summer.

Home truths
Challenge 1 for all of these startups is clearly finding a name stupid enough to play in the home sensor sector! Beyond that, the major issue all will face is opening up mass distribution channels for their products. Aside from Google, carriers like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) could help with that, as well as the established sensor players such as Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE: HON). (See Betting on Smart Homes.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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Michelle Schenker
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Michelle Schenker,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/8/2014 | 4:30:02 PM
Piper
And don't forget the newest player in the all-in-one home security space, Piper. We just reviewed them and we predict they are going to make a lot of noise in this crowded space!
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
1/16/2014 | 4:27:13 PM
Re: best smart home set-up
Why is that? Any idea how many are opting to include Verizon LTE to power their set-ups from Lowes? I imagine it's not a ton.
geekhole
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geekhole,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/16/2014 | 3:40:33 PM
best smart home set-up
Lowe's Iris smart home product line has them all beat!
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
1/16/2014 | 2:33:07 PM
A Twitter user adds
A Twitter user adds some more names to watch:

@Dan_LRMobile Few more smart home startups to watch: @greenboxHQ @lockitron @lonoapp @_rachio @ZuliHome @MySkyBell @simplisafe @revolv

DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
1/16/2014 | 2:15:50 PM
Re: Could Be Helpful But...
The vast majority of this stuff broadcasts over WiFi so I would say hacking and security is a very valid concern. 
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
1/16/2014 | 1:01:17 PM
Re: Could Be Helpful But...
Interesting point about criminals being able to use it to know when you're out of town. Would have to be pretty sophisicated burglars, but that is a legimate concern.
Phil_Britt
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Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/16/2014 | 12:59:09 PM
Re: Could Be Helpful But...
It's one thing for advertisers to know and to use information smartly  -- without spamming me. But the more information that is out there about one's lifestyle, the more chance for it being used for the wrong reasons. If information is hackable or is provided to others "freely," there's the potential for misuse.

For example, as I understand Nest, it "learns" your schedule. I don't want to go through the trouble of cancelling the paper, having the mail stopped, etc., just to have someone to hack into Nest information to figure out I'm out of town for a couple of weeks.

NSA has also gotten a little big brotherish for many. Not a concern right now of mine, but it could be for some other people.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
1/16/2014 | 12:49:13 PM
Re: Great list - great names
Or a cable co. Verizon has a deal in place with Lowe's that's pretty piecemeal. A new device could fit in there as well.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
1/16/2014 | 12:47:25 PM
Re: Any more suggestions?
Bluetooth or even WiFi could be giving it a run for its money in the not-to-distant future though.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
1/16/2014 | 12:45:23 PM
Re: Could Be Helpful But...
I've heard the backlash over concerns about Google using the data Nest collects. It doesn't bother me that much, since it's limited to temperatures (although as someone pointed out, also what rooms you're in, when). But, when you say "people who have no business knowing about one's lifestyle," do you mean advertisers? Or are you envisioning more nefarious possibilities.
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