Smart Home

The Grail sniffs out carbon monoxide, shuts down furnaces

Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are among the most important devices that consumers can buy for their homes.

patent-claimedThe Grail is a new patent-pending CO and gas detector that allows users to shut down their furnaces from outside their homes if CO or gas leaks are detected. It can also be used to activate lights and sirens, and shut down an electrical breaker. The plan is for the Grail to ship in March and for it to cost $129-$149 at retail, although the first 100 Kickstarter backers can get one for $75. Its maker is looking to raise $200,000 by Aug. 28.

There will probably always be consumers looking to buy a CO detector. The Grail’s maker says that what sets it apart from rival devices is that it’s the first one offering the same capabilities with UL certification at an affordable price. There have, of course, been many CO detectors before this, including the Air Mentor, and it’s not clear if The Grail’s features and pricing combination will be enough to hook many consumers.

Smart Home Technology

Habitat smart home protects, smoke detects, and opens your garage door

Home automation is enticing because it provides the ability to turn your electronic devices on and off from anywhere. But it needs to be easy to use and secure, and the Ottawa, Canada-based newcomer Habitat’s new automation system of the same name is both those things.

Like similar automation systems, including Linkio, Habitat is made up of several devices that can be connected to existing electronic devices in the home to control them. First is Habitat Hub, a mostly white desktop unit that takes up little room and serves as the brains of the system.

One key component separating Habitat from some other rival systems is that it includes a device, Habitat Park, specifically designed to automate garage door functionality. The third device is Habitat Protect, which integrates existing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors into the Habitat automation system, and informs users if there is an alarm or the battery in one of the detectors needs to be replaced.  It magnetically installs on a wall within range of a detector, and can easily be set up using the Habitat App on an iOS or Android smartphone.

The fourth device, Habitat Learn, comes with temperature, audio, motion and light sensors, and can monitor and react to events in the home, such as notifying the user when the refrigerator door is left open. Kickstarter pledges that include at least one of the devices start at $29, which includes one Protect. But there’s a catch: Pledgers must also back a pledge level that includes the Hub. For $89, pledgers can get one Protect and a Hub, and for $99, pledgers can get one Learn and a Hub. Shipment is expected in June and the company is looking to raise $80,000.

Habitat’s magnetic-locking system is appealing, and the Park device may be attractive to many consumers who own a garage door. But the $100 starting price tag is pretty similar to rival systems and the product will likely only find mass-market success if it can obtain major retail distribution. A lower entry-level price for each unit would help.

Smart Home

Smoke Audio smoke alarm sends alerts around home with Bluetooth

It’s a given that everyone reading this has a combination carbon monoxide/smoke alarm in their home. Likewise, it’s also a given that most of the time it does nothing at all. Does its potentially life-saving capability give it a pass? That’s the question the team over at Smoke Audio asked themselves, and, as a result, have set out to give the humble smoke alarm a makeover.

Smoke Audio’s take on the nondescript alarm combines it with Bluetooth audio capabilities so that user can stream audio from smartphones, tablets, and PCs. The product can work with existing wiring or already installed alarms, allowing it to be easily placed in any home. To all those who think a music-playing carbon monoxide/smoke alarm jumps out as irresponsible, the team made sure that all music functionality is switched off the moment anything strange is detected, ensuring users will hear the alarm when they need to. All those interested in the product can grab one for $90, 30% off the retail price. Smoke Audio is looking for $50,000 by November 2014.

Smoke Audio’s basic premise is an intelligent, if simplistic, one. By just adding Bluetooth audio capabilities, something that is required in all our homes becomes that much more engaging. The fact that it’s also attracts as you’ll never have to change out the battery. Smoke Audio also bills their device as a low cost alternative to multi-room wireless systems. While installation is probably much easier than those systems, its cost might still prohibitive for many. With each unit flaunting a retail a price of about $130 each, even having to purchase two for a product that isn’t portable by nature will be a hard sell. Its one talent may end up being a one trick pony, too, something Smoke Audio is sure to address with future iterations. We’ll see if their campaign will need their own alarm come mid-November.