Although we still have a long way to go before we get Jetsons-style homes of the future, a handful of startups are starting to come up with beacons of hope.
iBeacons, actually. Fast Company is reporting that German startup Airfy is working on a hardware beacon that would sync your smartphone with almost any other device in your home, allowing you to remotely control, or even automate, certain appliances based on your location within a room.
The idea is that iBeacons, mostly used in advertisements that “turn on” whenever someone walks by, offer a much cheaper alternative to more elaborate “smart home systems” that typically require a substantial amount of construction and capital. By contrast, the airfy resembles a typical wi-fi router and mounts on your wall.
With airfy, you might imagine waking up and getting ready for work; when you step into your kitchen, your lights automatically turn on and your coffee maker starts brewing a fresh cup. As you pour your coffee and step into the living room, the kitchen lights shut off and your TV turns on so you can catch the news before you head out the door.
Here’s Fast Company’s take on how it works:
Inside each airfy is a micro-computer combined with a Bluetooth 4.0 chip (also known as Bluetooth Low Energy or “Smart Bluetooth”). Together this microcomputer and Bluetooth chip allow each airfy Beacon to act as an iBeacon. An iBeacon is Apple’s standard for Bluetooth Low Energy devices. These devices–or beacons–allow transmission of data between the beacon itself and your iPhone, which in turn allows your iPhone to know where it is on a micro-location level.
In addition to being a really cool idea, the airfy device’s internal computer chip is also built with an open source firmware so developers can hack it to their hearts’ content.
Airfy successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign earlier this month, raising $39,000 of its $30,000 goal. The startup’s Indiegogo campaign has already surpassed its $20,000 goal and still has 25 days to go.
Photo Credit: Payton Chung via Flickr