At their headquarters in Chelsea, crowdsourced invention engine Quirky and its manufacturing juggernaut of a partner General Electric threw back the curtains on their play for the connected home.
They re-launched their spinout, Wink, announced seven new gadgets for the connected home, and the development of something the company is calling a “microfactory” in San Francisco that will serve as the company’s West Coast headquarters and develop built-to-order electronics for the smart home. That factory is kitted out with 3D printers, automated circuit board assembly machines, and a plastic injection molding line.
The “microfactory” is intended to be Quirky’s hub for its UNIQ, a line of connected home products customizable and built-to-order. Its first product will be Spotter UNIQ, a customized version of its home sensing product.
Built off of the Wink.com hub that Quirky unveiled over the summer, the New York-based company also unveiled a suite of products: a smart window and door sensor, dubbed Tripper and invented by Robert Sweeney, which retails as a pack of two on Wink.com for $40; Overflow, a sensor to detect water leaks; Outlink, an outlet for monitoring and managing power usage; and Tapt, a smart switch for one-touch control over smart bulbs, all invented by Michael Taylor and available for $35, $50 and $60 respectively.
Rounding out the new product suite, inventor Nathan Firth developed Ascend, a $90 monitor and remote control for garage doors, and Denny Fong came up with Norm, an $80 smart HVAC controller and thermostat to remotely monitor temperature in the home, both controlled by the Wink app.
Wink is also the control hub for 100 partner products from 15 consumer brands working with Quirky and GE.
GE and Quirky first linked up in April 2011, and the giant industrial manufacturer made good on the partnership as part of a $79 million round of financing, that also included previous investors Andreessen Horowitz, Norwest Venture Partners, RRE Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
“Last year, we announced to the world that together with our partners at GE, we would enter the connected home market,” said Ben Kaufman, founder and CEO of Quirky, in a statement. “In just 18 months, we have introduced an entire ecosystem of products, a powerful app that interacts with hundreds of connected devices from leading brands, and today, a comprehensive campaign to educate the world on what it means to live in the connected home.”
No one needs a study to tell them that most Americans have yet to give a crap about smart home technology, but GE and Quirky conducted one anyway. The survey found that while most people are reluctant to connect their home, they at least really want to, with 83 percent of the survey’s respondents saying they’re mulling a smart home purchase.
“In today’s connected world, GE and Quirky see an exceptional opportunity to make the connected home a reality for everyone — accessible, affordable and focused on the foundational elements of how a home works. This includes lighting, energy management and safety,” said Beth Comstock, GE’s chief marketing officer, in a statement. “We have seen tremendous success working with Quirky and its community of inventors to find new ideas and bring them to market at remarkable speed.”