New hardware startup and Y Combinator Summer 2013 cohort member Senic is launching pre-orders for its first product today, a laser rangefinder like the ones sold in hardware stores around the world and used every day by contractors and DIY enthusiasts. The difference is that Senic’s device uses Bluetooth Low Energy to communicate with iOS and Android devices, recording measurements instantly and syncing them to the cloud.
The use of a cloud-based platform for collecting and storing measurement data, as well as Senic’s plans to expand their hardware catalog to include a number of different hardware devices, including micrometers, gauges, and other tools that builders and engineers use regularly in their work. Senic co-founder Toby Eichenwald explained that he got the idea working for his father’s company in Korea, and learned from its customers that the measurement industry was essentially “stuck in the 80s.”
“We build precise, sensitive devices for smartphones,” Eichenwald said. “The product that we’re working on right now is the worlds’ smartest laser distance meter. It’s directed to two big groups right now, so we’ve made one app that’s directed at do-it-yourselfers and consumers (a floor plan app), and for our B2B customers we’re doing a price quote app so that electricians or heating guys for instance can walk into a building, enter the price-per-feet of their systems and quickly generate a quote.”
The laser distance meter they’re building has a 200-foot range, is accurate up to 0.075 inches, is water and dust resistant and features single button operation. It will retail for $149 in stores, but is available to pre-order customers through the Senic website starting today for just $99. The Floorplan app for iPad (Android support coming soon, now that Android 4.3 supports Bluetooth Low Energy) allows a user to record length and width measurements and build a model in the software, and then rooms can be dragged and positioned next to each other to mimic the actual floor layout. The Price quotes app outputs an invoice that can be emailed, and offers in-app customer sign-off for approving work orders.
“We’ve talked to a lot of architects, engineers and really big firms here in the Bay area to see what problems they’re going through, and that’s why we’re focusing on apps first because they solve the biggest problem,” Eichenwald said. “People in the building industry are under huge money and time pressures, and anything that can save them a lot of time and make their lives easier is so valuable to them.”
Senic is looking to ship in the beginning of November, with an idea first production run of around 500 to 1,000 units, and Eichenwald says that they’re fully ready to go to production, unlike a lot of Kickstarter or other crowdfunded products at this stage. The laser rangefinder is just a start, too, and eventually firms could use Senic products for all their measurement needs, which could result in a completely new resource in terms of aggregate, cloud-based data from the building and construction industry.