Roost’s Simple, Affordable Answer to the ‘Smart Home’

We’ve got smartphones and smart TVs, and we’ve been promised for a while that the next frontier in consumer electronics would be an entire “smart home.”

Companies like Apple and Google are clamoring to be the first to market with an all-encompassing solution for streamlining and unifying our most common tasks around the house. Everything from lighting to smoke detection and climate control stands to benefit from a personal “Internet of things” around the house.

The problem, of course, is that turning your dumb home “smart” will almost certainly involve buying into a single technology ecosystem – whether it’s Apple’s or Google’s walled garden, we probably shouldn’t expect that a Nest thermostat (now owned by Google) will play nice with Apple’s HomeKit, for example.

Couple that slight speed bump with the fact that buying into such an ecosystem will likely not be cheap, and you have all manner of barriers that might get in the way of widespread adoption.

Enter Roost, which seems to have found a solution with near-universal appeal and possibilities: a “smart battery” for existing smoke detectors.

Smart smoke detectors, as popularized by Nest, involve connecting your smartphone with your smoke detector and/or thermostat, but their offerings aren’t cheap; one of Nest’s connected smoke detectors will set you back about $100.

Roost’s answer is to provide a much cheaper retrofit option. Their Kickstarter campaign for the Smart Battery has (as of this writing) 27 days to go, and is set to offer an interesting alternative: it’s a 9-volt battery with Wi-Fi connectivity. Like more expensive devices, the battery allows you to link your smartphone with your smoke detector, making it easy to know when the battery needs to be replaced, as well as to respond quickly to emergencies while you’re away from home.

The advantages are immediately obvious. Traditional smoke detectors are only effective if you’re actually on the premises when a fire breaks out and can respond directly, and the alternatives are, at least for now, prohibitively expensive for many. Roost’s battery might be the perfect middle-ground for people who want affordable peace-of-mind. Early adopters can get the battery for $35 in advance of its full retail roll-out.

I can see this being particularly popular among renters who might not want to replace an entire smoke detector outright. Roost claims the battery will last around five years, which means you’ll be able to take the battery with you when you move out.

Kickstarter has long been a haven for some truly forward-thinking designs. I’ve covered other Kickstarter projects before, but nothing that has so much potential for remedying life-changing events, such as a house fire. That it’s so affordable is just icing on the cake.

You can check out Roost’s campaign here. They’ve already blown right past their funding goal by about $24,000, so new backers can rest assured that the campaign will be successful when it wraps on December 18th.

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