16 Feb Ex-Mozilla Team Unveils “Sense,” An Intelligent, Secure Hub For The Smart Home
With the emerging ecosystem of connected devices – often dubbed the “Internet of Things” – consumers are rightly worried about the security and privacy implications associated with always-on hardware in their homes that listen, watch, observe and then store data in the cloud. Today, a company called Silk Labs, co-founded by former Mozilla CTO Andreas Gal, is launching a device that aims to address those concerns with its smart home sensor dubbed “Sense” that interoperates with your home’s connected devices, and automatically adapts to your needs over time by learning from your behavior and patterns.
At launch, Sense, now live on Kickstarter, will function as something of a digital brain for the connected home, in order to do things like turn on or off the lights, adjust the music or thermostat, and more. But what’s different about how this device operates, versus other smart home hubs on the market today, is that it acts on your behalf by developing an understanding of the people in the home, and their specific needs.
To some extent, these interactions will be programmed explicitly via a companion app, but the bigger idea is to have Sense observe its users’ behavior then act accordingly.
For example, it can use facial recognition to identify who’s entering the house, then turn on the lights for you, set the thermostat to your desired temperature, and even start playing your favorite tracks on your Sonos speaker system.
By understanding who it’s looking at, Sense can also better detect when to alert you when something is wrong. Unlike security cameras that automatically record whenever there’s movement in the frame, requiring users to review footage that was merely of their cat toying with the living room curtains, Sense will be able to tell when there’s truly a concern warranting an alert.
Out of the box, Sense will work with smart home devices including lights from Philips Hue and LIFX, thermostats like Nest, and Sonos, with more integrations to come. The device uses computer vision for facial recognition and Bluetooth LE for proximity. Users, meanwhile, can interact with Sense through voice, gestures, and its app.
The hardware itself is not what’s interesting about Sense, however.
Effectively, explains CEO Andreas Gal, the company has just packaged existing smartphone technology into a new housing – in Sense’s case, a wooden stand with a sliding piece of curved glass on the front that hides Sense’s always-on camera.