Crowdfunding Spotlight: ALYT

Crowdfunding Spotlight: ALYT

Apr 23, 2014

Even though sometimes these things seem impractical it is good to highlight those projects that are actively pushing the envelope and creating the foundation for the future in technology. This week I believe we have just that project in ALYT; a project that could be the dominating iPod-esque frontrunner 20 years from now or a necessary unsuccessful attempt that piqued interest but left room to be improved. We’re always hoping that these projects are successful of course and ALYT is bringing some serious innovation to a burgeoning field of tech that is beginning to show signs of cash grab mimicry.

The technology is Z-Wave and it is a standard that allows appliances and security systems to interact and create the futuristic, mythical smart-home. The technology is quite impressive and seems to has the benefit to watching the missteps of previous wireless standards such as wifi and Bluetooth. There have been a lot of developers hoping to gain an early foothold on this market which has lead to a lot of helpful products that unfortunately have not been very creative. Most of these are just simple modules that work with an existing security system, and there has not been much of an effort to make a device that ties all these devices together. This is what the ALYT aims to do. The ALYT‘s goal is to be the central hub of the house; the device that manages not just the security system but the lights, thermostat, and even the shopping list from a connected refrigerator. All these plans are possible because unlike a lot of other devices the ALYT has 512 MB of RAM which allows it to smoothly run its Android software and manage all the scheduling and security measures that accompany a fully operational smart-home.

ALYT-CrowdfundingSpotlight

Now this is obviously a piece of technology that is still a handful of years away from breaking into the average family’s ranch, but the ALYT seems like a very solid piece of hardware with some smart software and a very impressive looking app for both Android and iOS. It goes without saying, but as with everything now this is fully compatible with most smartphones, but what is interesting is that the ALYT comes with a 3.5G cellular connection and a battery backup in case of a power outage. It’s these little things that make me think that this little device can really embed itself into the middle of this emerging field, and it is definitely worth a look at its IndieGoGo page.

KickStarter Spotlight: Prizm

KickStarter Spotlight: Prizm

Mar 20, 2013

While many of us are not privileged enough to have a smart home that operates with more autonomy than an average car, the future certainly is here as cost decreases and standardization has increased. As costs come down and a newer generation starts purchasing homes for the first time these products will see a large spike in sales, and suddenly there will be a battle for footing in this burgeoning industry. We have seen this in products like the Nest thermostat and different “smart” refrigerators which put the smart home appliance in the collective conscious of the general public. While the idea of a refrigerator or oven with Twitter capabilities is fundamentally absurd, the general idea of having a fridge that communicates with the consumer is not. Security systems have been doing this for a while now; giving their customers the ability to lock and arm their houses by means of a smartphone. I think that it is the dream of many homeowners to be able to monitor their home from anywhere on the globe. The goal is summed up in the image of an exhausted worker leaving a late shift and on the way home he turns on his lights, preheats the oven, turns up the temperature, and even starts playing a favorite album over his stereo system. Theoretically, this is all possible and incredibly desirable.

What has been missing, however, is a simple consumer electronic device or service to neatly tie this whole experience together without costing an arm and a leg. A few products have come and gone, but with the emergence of Z-Wave as a new industry standard for in-house connectivity it is much easier for a single product to be marketed to the masses. So, enter Prizm, a small triangular module and companion mobile app that allows for entire home control and automation. Frankly, this project blows me away, and I can only hope that one day my home comes standard with everything this ambitious device offers. Acting as a central hub, the Prizm receiver gives the user full control over everything that is connected to it. These include, but are not limited to, door locks, lights, thermostats, and security devices. The main brains of the operation are housed in the actual Prizm device with its attractive, and large, touchscreen, but the main console will be through smartphones and tablets. Early images of the companion app are incredibly impressive and the Windows 8 style layout really adds a touch of elegance and refinement to what could have just been another boring app.

The app looks like a joy to use, and let’s be honest, it is hard to think of anyone who would not jump at the opportunity to have Prizm installed in their home. The inherent problem is the cost of having said system installed, and that is certainly reflected in the $200,000 funding goal on Prizm’s KickStarter page. The lowest donation that will still net a Prizm device and a few goodies is $180 which is incredibly low assuming a Z-Wave system is already present. So, for anyone who has the ability to run a connected house, or those considering the possibility, I strongly recommend taking a long look at Prizm because it is the most ambitious, and exciting KickStarter projects I have seen in a while.