Sensors/IoT
Heat Seek turns up the the heat up on lazy landlords

The Premise. Although New York City winters can’t compare to those further up the eastern seaboard, they still pack quite a punch. For those with poorly heated apartments, they can be downright brutal. Although avenues exist with which to report heating violations, they are often too unreliable to truly make a difference — literally leaving people out in the cold.

The Product. The team behind Heat Seek is proposing a tech-centric solution to reduce the inefficiency. The initiative uses a set of connected devices relaying temperature information back to a central hub in an Internet-connected apartment. (Only one hub is needed, reducing the barrier of entry for those without a connection.) All this information is then sent to a server where it can be accessed by tenants, advocates, and lawyers using a Web app.

The company hopes this information will allow timely resolutions to violations. Tenants coming home to a toasty apartment are not the only beneficiaries, though: Heatseek NYC wants to partner with responsible landlords to help them stay compliant by figuring out how best to avoid heat loss, maximize heating efficiency, and potentially save thousands. (How many responsible landlords there are in NYC remains to be seen.)

The Pitch. Their Kickstarter campaign has a lot going for it. Its simple and clear video tells the real story of a current NYC resident living in an improperly heated apartment. By telling her story and showing how the company’s sensors would help, the video presents a compelling issue and a solid call-to-action. Although the team is looking for $10,000 to begin manufacturing, it is ideally seeking $50,000 by campaign’s end to put 1,000 sensors in the hands of New Yorkers who need it most.

The Perks. You can gift a temperature hub for a New Yorker in need for $30, or pay $60 to do the same and receive one yourself. Conversely, you can gift a hub while receiving one yourself with a backing of $120 or more.  No matter what option you choose, every perk has an estimated delivery date of February 2015.

The Potential. Any serious attempt to revamp bureaucracy can be messy (here’s looking at you, health.gov.), but Heat Seek NYC’s solution to a persistent problem is simple, elegant, and easily applicable to a wide range of situations. Heat Seek has attracted a lot of attention via a back of a string of wins in app competitions However, it faces a long journey in the real world if it seeks to become a standard in New York or beyond.