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.


Connected Objects Sensors/IoT

A little Birdi whispers life-saving things to your smartphone

The Premise. Everyone has those annoying fire alarms in their home, but many people let their batteries die or unplug them because they continue to beep for no reason. Because their notifications are so annoying, many folks aren’t too diligent about checking their battery levels. Or aren’t too disappointed when they get too low. Plus, even when they’re working, most budget smoke alarms can’t do much to save your home when you’re away.

The Product. The Birdi is a connected multi-use home alarm set to compete directly with the Nest Protect. It connects via WiFi to alert you of smoke, carbon monoxide, and 10 other variables such as humidity and air quality. It sends the user alerts when there are elevated levels of smoke or carbon monoxide, but if it detects sufficient levels of these dangerous elements in the air, it will dial out the fire department. Birdi can even notify you via smartphone when its batteries are low and automatically order replacements (although the standard AAs wouldn’t be too difficult to find at any nearby store.)

The Pitch. The inventors of the Birdi make their case well for a smarter alarm in a two-minute campaign video that features lots of shots of the product and families. They also note that they’re working with PCH International’s Highway1, an accelerator that helps take projects from prototypes to projects and may help increase their chance of success.

The Perks. After selling out the $89 early bird, the Birdi is now offering a $99 Indiegogo special for its flexible funding campaign. Units are due to be delivered in October 2014.

The Potential. The humble smoke alarm is one of the many things around the home that companies are looking to turn into connected products. Obviously, everybody needs one. And many can probably justify even a significant premium for a device that can not only automatically contact the fire department when you’re not home, but do so with no subscription fee. There’s cause to be more skeptical about Birdi’s interesting neighbor-notify feature, though, since that would likely require a very large installed base.