The Premise. Since Star Trek, homeowners have always wanted to be able to control their home devices with simple spoken commands. Now that the smart home is quickly finding adoption around the world, a voice-controlled module will greatly propel that market into a must-have for anyone.
The Product. Homey is an attractive little orb that can control devices across seven of the most common wireless protocols (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, NFC, Infrared, and more) with simple, spoken voice commands. The device is designed to be easy to use and adjust as more and more devices can become controlled by taking to one’s home.
The Pitch. Athom, developer of Homey, has put together an attractive video that shows users adjusting the thermostat, queuing up movies with subtitles, and even setting the mood in the bedroom. Athom is far along in the development process, but are raising money through crowdfunding to keep retail costs down and fund the manufacturing process, with a goal of €100,000. Stretch goals are available at €200,000 to create if-then flow commands that will automate things even more, and at €300,000, multiple colors will be available including a Pokémon-themed Poké Ball color scheme.
The Perks. Setting up a home with a Homey will take a pledge of €229, with an extra €20 for shipping in June 2015. For €239, the Geek Edition is available, giving developers two wireless transceivers, jumper cables, and access to the development kit to add more features to the device. Homey can be had a little sooner for €399, arriving in April instead of June.
The Potential. Home automation is an industry that everyone wants a piece of, and Homey looks like it might become the interface that people want to adopt. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to the Google Nexus Q and adopting a similar feature set to the EmoSPARK, the Homey already might look like a copycat device, but the sheer number of wireless connectivity options and flexibility of functions makes it an intriguing option. Another chief competitor for the Homey will be the Ubi, which right now might be a little less powerful in terms of precise control, but also offers users the ability to answer basic internet questions by asking them out loud. With so many choices, it’s the little differences that will separate the success stories from the footnotes, and it seems like Homey might be able to edge out most of the competition when it comes to features and design.