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.

Connected Objects Smart Home

Dorr drives into the crowded connected garage door space

The Premise. Automated garage doors sure are useful, but not when you spend the beginning of every drive wondering whether or not it was left open. This usually happens when you’re already pretty far from your home, forcing most to waste time returning just to make sure. 

The Product. Dorr is an extremely straightforward product from Buelgo that comes in the form of a sensor that attaches to your garage door. In exchange for its new permanent home, it determines whether or not said door is open using its built-in accelerometer. Most importantly, Dorr uses your own wi-fi network to communicate with your smartphone to let you know if you need to open or close your garage door from wherever you are. Password protect Dorr with 128-AES level encryption to prevent unauthorized access, or just the chubby fingers of a little one. 

The Pitch. The campaign is as straightworward as the product itself, with the featured 43 second video introducing the inventor and showing off Dorr in all its authoritarian garage door glory. As with the doors it opens, backers won’t have to have to wait too long if they spring for one: Dorr has a February 2015 delivery date. 

The Perks. Buelgo is offering single worthwhile perk in the form of a Dorr unit for $75 — unless you really, really want a T-shirt that tells the world about your backer status for $25. 

The Potential. Smartphone-enabled garage door openers have been a thing for quite some time. Many companies currently offer their very own take on the product that frankly have far more functionality than Dorr. Products from companies like Open-MeCraftsman, Garageio, BTmate, and Liftmaster offer features like shared access between more than one user and responsive design that detects when you’re near. Dorr is extremely basic compared to some of these more sophisticated solutions and really offers nothing new to the space. Its price isn’t even all that attractive considering that BTmate in particular can be had for as little as $30. Smartphone-enabled garage doors may not be a huge industry right now, and products like Dorr certainly aren’t going to make it much bigger.

Smart Home

Open-Me gives you 24-hour garage door access from anywhere

The Premise. Homeowners constantly have to ask themselves questions about the state they left things in. Is the oven on? Is the front door locked? Did I close the garage door when I left? Now with a combination of some hardware and an app, that last question is a question no longer.

The Product. Open-Me is a sonar sensor that can be placed on a garage door that hooks up to a home Wi-Fi network. By checking the app, users can determine if their garage door is open by even as little as a foot, and open or close it remotely. Additionally, using GPS, the app can be adjusted to open automatically when the synced phone or tablet is within a user-determined distance, and close automatically once that device travels outside of that range.

The Pitch. In a rather light and humorous video, Open-Me focuses mainly on the peace of mind aspects of the app, whether it’s making sure that the home is closed up securely or being able to let children or maintenance workers in without having to personally head home. The preorder site is very clean and contains all the pertinent data anybody could need before making a decision to pledge money. The project wants to raise around $50,000 to incorporate, create an iOS version, and begin producing the hardware.

The Perks. The Open-Me app can be pre-ordered for $79 and expected to release some time In the Fall of this year. For those that don’t want to wait, a beta version is available for $499, and at the highest $999 tier, among the many perks and the beta device comes a lifetime free service guarantee.

The Potential. For local usage, there isn’t a lot that this device does that a regular garage door opener, particularly one with a keypad panel, doesn’t do already and Internet-connected openers have been shown for some time. However, there’s something to be said about having a garage door that opens upon arrival providing a kind of welcoming feel as well as knowing when it’s partially open. Additionally, being able to open and close a garage door remotely has its uses, as demonstrated by the product video. Some might find it handy to save a couple seconds. Motorcycle owners like the product’s inventor will certainly enjoy the added convenience. Others probably won’t worry about it. There have already been a few attempts (like lift) to supplant the traditional garage door opener with a smartphone, but maybe Open-Me will be the one to add enough features to catch on.