A Silicon Valley startup with an impressive tech pedigree -- its execs' credentials include Beats Electronics, Guitar Hero and Palantir Technologies -- has released its first product: an elegantly designed plug-in nightlight that can listen for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors going off and call you with a recording of the alarm. Leeo says its Smart Alert nightlight is the "first in a family of smart home products that will focus on efficiency, safety and comfort."
The Smart Alert promises simple setup and operation: Just plug the device into a power outlet, then use the free smartphone app to link it up with your home Wi-Fi. The device then "listens" for the distinctive frequency of a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm, and sends a notification to your phone along with a recording of the alarm sound, enabling users to dismiss potential false alerts.
Available via Leeo's online store, the Smart Alert is priced at $99 -- steep for a nightlight, but cheaper than most home monitoring services. The company says the device meets a large unmet need, as less than 5 percent of homeowners use a service that monitors for smoke or carbon monoxide alarms.
Why a Smart Nightlight?
"Ironically, we didn't set out to design a nightlight in the first place," said Chief Designer Robert Brunner, writing in a blog post on the company's Web site Tuesday. "We chose this direction for our first product for a number of reasons. It happened to be the ideal form factor that usually resides in the perfect spot in the home to monitor effectively. The nightlight is also a familiar presence that connotes warmth and removes the unknowns of the dark. It is the perfect symbol of the comfort and confidence we want you to feel when it comes to safety in the home."
Founded in 2013, the San Francisco-based Leeo has raised $37 million in financing. Its backers include the utility company E.ON and Max Levchin, chairman of Yelp and a co-founder of PayPal.
Leeo itself is made up of some big-name tech talent. Its executives include CEO Charles Huang, who founded RedOctane (publisher of the Guitar Hero videogame); co-founder Adam Gettings, who was CTO and chief robot designer at RoboteX, which makes safety and security robots; and Brunner, who helped design the Beats by Dr. Dre audio products at Beats Electronics (acquired earlier this year by Apple for $3 billion).
Other Leeo execs include co-founder Eddy Chan, a venture investor and former corporate lawyer at Morrison & Foerster; and two veterans of the data analytics firm Palantir Technologies: Chief Technology Officer Luke Ivers and Chief Data Advisor Nathan Gettings.
16 Million Color Options
In addition to listening for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, the Leeo Smart Alert also sends out notifications if a home's temperature or humidity levels exceed thresholds designated by the user. This could, for example, alert a homeowner about potential danger to pets during hot or cold weather, or provide a warning that water pipes in the home might have broken.
When it isn't sending alarms to smartphones, the Smart Alert functions as a nightlight with up to 16 million color options. Users can control the light via either a dimmer ring or the smartphone app, and can set the device to turn on automatically when lights are low.
For now, the Leeo Smart Alert app is supported only on iPhones (versions 4S and up running iOS 7 or later). We reached out to a company spokeswoman, who told us support for Android phones would be "coming soon." She added that the Leeo Smart Alert would also be available via Amazon shortly, and that the company expected to have the device available in brick-and-mortar retail stores in 2015.
Posted: 2014-10-22 @ 6:51pm PT
Impressive new technology; happy to see more smart home technology like this being developed. Could definitely be a life-saver.