The Luma was a compelling product when it was announced back in late-2015 — we even went so far as declaring the WiFi-extending home mesh system, “fun.” That descriptor doesn’t really apply the startup’s new offering, and indeed, Luma Guardian feels a bit out of left field for the networking hardware-maker.
The system is a lot of things rolled into one: a VPN service, antivirus (through Webroot), internet speed monitor and a sort of catch-all tech support line for $5 a month — none of which sounds particularly fun, per se. CEO Paul Judge begs to differ, however, insisting that it’s all part of a natural progression for Luma — the company had apparently already been fielding a broad range of security questions from device owners.
It was also one of the earlier home networking devices to bake IoT security into its system, and as a result, the company spotted security problems in around two-thirds of the “thousands and thousands” of homes that currently sport a Luma.
“We’d been blocking them, and the next step was, how do we go to their devices and clean them up?” Judge tells TechCrunch. “How do we install antivirus and clean up the infections on those devices? For 15 years, we built networking and security equipment for companies. You can have the best equipment in the world, but at the end of the day, they had a team to manage it all. Having someone there who pays attention is key.”
The result is what Luma refers to as a sort of “IT team for the house,” a way to offer protection and peace of mind for users who aren’t savvy enough to pull together those internet defense systems on their own. And $5 a month actually sounds like a decent price — after all, many VPN providers charge right around that for a standalone service. The concierge service will most likely appeal to older users, and as such, the company has enlisted the one-time Dos Equis pitchman “Most Interesting Man in the World,” Jonathan Goldsmith.
Of course, the startup can’t actually refer to him as such (trademarks and all), but he’s essentially reprised the role, this time with what looks to be a glass of whiskey at his side. The 78-year-old was replaced as a beer spokesman by a younger actor late last year, but his age puts him firmly in one of the product’s key potential demographics. Of course, in order to take advantage of the service, users will need a Luma deployed in their home, so they’ll either have to have enough tech savvy to pick up the system — or at least have someone gift them one.
The Guardian service is available starting today.