There’s currently no shortage of ‘smart’ security devices for your home, due to the ascendancy of the smart home market as a whole, coupled with a hardware renaissance driven by the rise of crowdfunding. These consumer home security devices usually consist simply of an Internet-connected camera of sorts, combined with motion detection and a supporting cloud service and smartphone app to ping you when a potential intruder is detected. Debuting on IndieGoGo today, however, is Cocoon, which adds ‘infrasound’ into the mix.
By ‘listening’ to infrasonic sound waves — sound below 20Hz, which is undetectable to the human ear — combined with machine learning, the device claims to be able to monitor an entire home, including detecting intruders through closed doors and in rooms in the home other than the one where the Cocoon is situated. Should the technology stand up, this potentially solves the shortcomings of most camera/motion detection-based smart home security systems, which are either limited to a single room or require the setting up of ‘zones’ using multiple devices.
“We believe that traditional home security doesn’t work. Most people in the UK/U.S. don’t have a home alarm system because it’s expensive and complicated. Those that do, find that they forget to set their alarm or are worried about false alarms disturbing their neighbours or receiving call-out charges from the police,” Dan Conlon, co-founder of Cocoon, tells TechCrunch.
“We believe that there is a smarter, more accessible way to deliver home security. Our SUBSOUND technology allows a user to protect a typical home with a single, simple device whilst machine learning algorithms learn what is normal for your home to reduce false alarms. Smartphone alerts deliver actionable information to you enabling you to take meaningful action. We’re putting people at the heart of home security.”
In addition to its infrasonic sound sensor, the Cocoon device packs a traditional motion sensor, microphone and HD camera with night vision and wide-angle lens. The idea is that, should unusual activity be detected, you’re pinged on your smartphone and can stream live audio and video to check out the scene for yourself. The accompanying Cocoon smartphone app will use geofencing to enable Cocoon to know if any household members are home so as to eliminate false positives. The device also claims to be pet friendly so that a dog or cat won’t set the thing off — a loud alarm can optionally be emitted to help disturb an intruder.
On the issue of whether or not a single Cocoon can really listen to and protect an entire house — a claim we should treat with a little scepticism, since this is pre-funded and pre-launch — the UK startup had this to say:
When any wave fits through a gap it will spread out a bit. The greater the wavelength, the more it will spread out. Because the ‘ripples’ or waves of air pressure changes Cocoon monitors are of very low-frequency they spread out a lot allowing them to travel a long way around a building, even though the tiniest of gaps.
Cocoon is packed full of high quality sensors that it uses to detect these ripples which it converts into digital signals. Each action is different and creates it own digital signature, like a fingerprint, that Cocoon uses to build profiles and determine whether activity is normal.
The company says it has several working prototypes already being beta tested in the wild, and that it’s raising on IndieGoGo to gauge consumer demand and fund a first production run. However, the Cocoon device won’t ship to early backers until Q4 next year. Yes, you could wait an entire year or more before getting your hands on the unproven device. That’s one of the perils of crowdfunding, perhaps at its extreme in this case. Or maybe, unlike more naive hardware startups, the Cocoon team are actually being realistic — though the smart home security space could look a lot different in a year’s time.
To that end, Cocoon’s British founders have a very respectable track record, including a number of successful exits. Conlon most recently founded cloud storage service Humyo, which sold for $18 million to Trend Micro in 2010. Prior to that he started web host Donhost while still in high school and sold it for $11 million in 2005. Meanwhile, Sanjay Parekh was previously CEO of Webexpenses, which sold in 2012, and Cocoon’s other co-founders, Colin Richardson, Nick Gregory and John Berthels, have held various roles at Humyo and Trend Micro.
In other words, this is a team with extensive startup experience and whom have worked together to successfully deliver various products and services, which, on the surface at least, bodes well for Cocoon’s future.