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.

Home Pets

Termitat keeps termites in your home, doesn’t let them damage anything though

For many, termites are little creatures that slowly and silently eat houses until they crumble to the ground. Most, however, have no idea what termites look like and don’t really care because they’re associated with costly home repairs.

For the insect enthusiast who hasn’t had a bad experience with termites comes the Termitat. This small glass exhibit can be displayed at home, in the office or at school and features, you guessed it, termites. More specifically, in case anyone cares, the forest-dwelling Dampwood termite. The campaign calls this a museum-quality habitat, meaning that, hopefully, the little wood-eaters can’t get out. To feed the bugs, just drop a thimbleful of water in twice a month. Doing so will help to grow and develop the colony. An optional add-on includes a magnifier to view the bugs up close, bleh.

From the point of view of someone who doesn’t want termites anywhere near their home, this product seems a little nutty. However, insect enthusiasts may rejoice at the opportunity to keep these little foundation-miners as pets. In addition, if a visitor doesn’t know what lurks beneath, the habitats themselves are quite handsome. Either way, backers will have to donate $125 for their very own for delivery in May. Termitat is hoping to raise $5,000 on Kickstarter.


Pop-Up Playland welcomes hamsters to a portable paper pet playground

The Premise. Gerbils, hamsters, mice, lizards, hermit crabs and other small quirky pets generally live in small habitats in their owner’s homes. The drawback is that the habitats can sometimes be too small for these pets, but take up too much room at the same time. In addition, not all offer the props needed for enough exercise or interaction.

The Product. The Pop-Up Playland offers a fun alternative for puny pets pursuing a place to play. Similar to a pop-up books, the product is a cardboard area that folds and unfolds to provide fun and excitement for small pets. When popped up, the playland, which mimics an urban playground, has ladders, seesaws, wheels and other fun features for pets to play with.  When playtime is over, the Playland folds back up into what looks like a large cardboard book that is easy to store. The sides of the Playland have little doors that make it possible to connect several Playlands together in order to expand the space your pet can ran around in.

The Pitch. Pop-Up Playland’s creators Shawn and Olivia, a father and daughter team, talk about how and why they wanted to invent a better solution for small pets in their video. Their pet hamster, Munchkin, was crowded in his enclosure and needed more room to run and play. Shawn and Olivia hope to raise $20,000 in their 35 day run on Kickstarter. More information can be found on their Web site.

The Perks. Early-bird backers can pledge $25 for the Pop-Up Playland, which otherwise goes for $35. Reward tiers go all the way up to a $750 tier, which includes the opportunity to name one of Olivia’s future pets (subject to her approval of course) and a few other perks. Reward tiers that include the Pop-Up Playland itself have an estimated delivery date of August 2014.

The Potential. There are of course lots of options for play areas geared towards small pets. Many are made out of solid materials that don’t store easily. Some, like the Prevue Smallcall themselves playpens, but don’t actually provide interactive features and require additional wheels and toys, The Pop-Up Playland is unique in that it offers an all inclusive play area for pets that it is easy stored and completely portable. While there may be some concerns about long-term durability for such a product, the Pop-Up Playland seems to offer at least as much fun for pet owners as the pets themselves.