In the vast panoply of potential home networking protocols, there are only a few worth worrying about. Wi-Fi works well but it can go down and ZigBee and the like are sparsely supported. But Bluetooth Smart is local, secure, and easy to use. And that’s what Seed Labs is using to connect our lamps, our blinds, and even our tea kettles.
This Polish startup has built a small chip – about as big as a postage stamp and twice as thick as one – that can go into any appliance. Chip-enabled devices will then show up automatically on phones that are compatible with Bluetooth Smart, allowing you to control lights, put the kettle on for tea, or drop the shutters. It’s a B2B play that could revolutionize how we think about home networking and control.
“We truly believe that in the near future things around us will be defined by software. Right now we are surrounded by lots of iot gadgets. However, all of everyday products – like light bulbs, kettles, switches, shades, etc. – are still not connected. We don’t want the IoT world to be owned by geeks. We want ordinary people to feel comfortable using connected devices,” said Marek Wierzbicki, CMO of Seed Labs. The company is now based in San Francisco.
The company will license the chip to appliance makers and creates their software in Krakow, Poland.
“We are placing a strategic bet on bluetooth smart, considering it a game changer in iot world. We build our software on top of that to make it extremly simple to use. Our competitors are based on other communication protocols which are not intuitive and not so easy,” said Wierzbicki.
The company’s demo was quite compelling. To use the system you simply plug in a compatible appliance and it shows up in the app with the necessary interface elements. For example, you can set the length of time you want to boil water or even tell lights to go on and off remotely. It is completely plug and play – there is little initial setup and the system remembers devices that have been added to the network permanently. The company is working on some unique interface systems as well, including a unique Nest-like knob that can sense proximity and motion.
The devices also include iBeacon compatibility and can interact with iPhones in real time. The company announced availability of its chip line as well as a $1 million angel investment that closed today.