When you’re in the concept stages of an idea, submitting an application to TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield competition sounds crazy. Telling the editor that you have a physical product, when you’ve got nothing more than an idea is even more insane but that’s exactly how Ryan Fant and Nayeem Hussain managed to gain entry and sequentially impress the judges at this year’s TechCrunch battle.
With six weeks before the competition, their idea, Keen Home, went from a mere concept with a basic app on an iPad to having a complete business plan, website and a physical prototype.
Keen Smart Air Vents
Keen Home have developed air vents that connect to a home’s existing central heating or cooling system and are synced via the home’s Wi-Fi network.
According to the team at Keen Home, the vents are designed to “maximise the efficiency and comfort of a home’s heating and cooling system by intelligently redirecting central HVAC airflow.” Essentially, the air vents can be controlled from your smart phone or tablet to heat or cool the rooms required at that time, reducing energy consumption and costs by reducing the amount of space that is regulated.
On April 29, 2013 the same day as the competition, Keen Home launched a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo and in one month managed to raise the $40,000 they needed to bring the concept to life. The team of two from New York University plan to rival the likes of Google’s Nest, building on Google’s original concept of integrating smart thermostats to home automation. Indeed, if the high praise from Nibletz Media is anything to go by, Keen Home’s smart vents could be a real contender in the home automation race – “Keen Homes does for your vents, what Nest does for your thermostat.”
In December 2013, digital agency, R/GA, announced Keen Home to be included in its 10 connected devices accelerator program. This program gave Keen Home an extra $120,000, a workspace at R/GA in New York and nearly unlimited access to design and development support. With this assistance, shipment of the first smart air vents is scheduled to being in the next few months.
Keen have also been thinking about the bigger picture, where large corporations with expensive electricity bills could integrate these Smart Air Vents and could potentially save thousands a year. As a testament to the brilliance of their concept, NYU have also provided the duo with a $20,000 grant giving them the opportunity to implement their technology in the college dorms. Companies like SmartThings, Revolv and Lowe’s are also getting on board, and Keen Home are currently in negotiations with manufacturers on how to produce and manage the final product.
Simple design, simple set up
Simplicity is one of the biggest drawcards of the Keen smart air vents system and the installation process is easy, all you need is a screwdriver and ten minutes. According to Keen Home, an average 3 bedroom house requires four vents integrated into their heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system to effectively manage the temperature of the home.
Costs of Keen Smart Vents
With a one off $150USD installation fee, and around $40USD per vent, Keen’s Smart Vents won’t break the home automation installation bank. Some additional costs include a $4USD/month access to their cloud-based management system and a $25USD sign up fee. The system also gives users monthly reports on their habits and electricity usage allowing them to tailor electricity plans specific to individual needs. While these may seem like ‘free-mium’ features, the potential long term savings on electricity could make them a worthwhile investment.
From now on, getting out of bed in winter doesn’t have to be a chore, individual vents can be put on a schedule, and through smart technology can react to outside temperatures, adjusting your house accordingly