Point: your perfect house sitter

We’re very often into smart things that simply are not that smart. Just dumb tech devices complicating our daily tasks and adding more stress to our everyday routine. Smart home systems, ad we’ve seen in recent moves in the industry, are aiming to make our daily routine easier to let us focus on our passions and forget boring tasks of our average day menàge.

Point preview on CNET.com

Point preview on CNET.com

Point is a smart house sitter, developed by Form Devices: a team of Apple alumni, seasoned entrepreneurs and former security professionals with a solid background in designing and manufacturing consumer electronics at scale. These guys been in Shenzhen for months as part of the Haxlr8r program, the premier hardware accelerator in the world, preparing for manufacturing. Then they started a Kickstarter campaign to launch Point. This awesome device that listens to the sounds of your home, senses what’s in the air and lets you know if anything is wrong.

Point combines a wide array of sensor data with the sounds of your home and turns it into information you care about. Point can let you know about guests arriving, windows breaking, presence of smoke or alarms going off, and all the things you worry about when you leave home.

Users can simply manage all the informations through a smartphone, triggering and setting up reactions and notifications in a widely customizable system.

Nils Mattisson - founder of Form DevicesWe interviewed Nils Mattisson (founder of Form Devices) who joined Apple in 2006 working on prototypes of new ideas of products and left the company in 2013 to found Form Devices. We asked him to make us feel their attitude towards the home automation universe and the future of the market and the innovation.

How was your idea born? How did you set up your startup after leaving Apple and put together an effective team? Tell us about your experience and the…daring steps of the beginning!

We wanted something like this for ourselves—peace of mind to know that all is fine while away from home. Our only options were cameras and complex security systems and thought there had to be a better way.

While prototyping and talking to people about what we we’re doing we realized how many places were in need of some kind of security, but couldn’t have cameras installed (hotels, Airbnb apartments, small offices etc.). So that was our first angle, but we kept talking to all kinds of people about their problems, and started realising that the soft security concept we built could solve a lot of people’s worries (and often replace hard security systems) with a much less invasive approach than what is available on the market.

How did you managing your funding needs and what’s your attitude towards the startup environment (crowdfunding, startup funding rounds, angel investors, startup awards / contests, etc.)?

Kickstarter enables us to get feedback from users early. Its a lean approach to hardware development—ship fast and scale slowly. The money raised from Point’s Kickstarter campaign enables us begin manufacturing and also expand our team. Until now Point has been developed using own capital and a small investment from SOSVentures.

Point is a very smart solution launched in a very competitive market, considering the latest big investments in the home automation industry. What’s the added value of your product compared to the other players? What’s your disruptive potential towards leading companies/products?

Point uses sound and sensor data to detect events that matter, like windows breaking, presence of people, or alarms going off (as we get better at recognizing events, more will be added to that list).

Since pattern recognition for sounds (and other sensors) can be done on the device, no sensitive data is sent to the cloud. To our knowledge, no other modern home security product works like this. This means you won’t get a photo of your “naked ass” emailed to you (which @mathowie wrote about in a blog post last week).

Point connects over wifi, requires no hub, and is virtually maintenance free. You can set it and forget it, and only need to change the batteries once a year.

Point dashboard

What trends are going to reshape the home automation industry? Who’s carrying on the most innovative and cutting edge projects, in your opinion?

What we see on in the home automation market today focuses a lot on what is possible, not necessarily what is needed. Future successful products will center around people and their homes.

Google recently acquired Nest. Later on Nest acquired Dropcam and launched its smart smoke alarm. Just weeks ago Nest acquired Revolv while other big companies are investing in the home automation industry. What’s your point of view on this? What’s the future of the home automation market?

We designed Point to be invisible, non-invasive and simple. We think it’s where the future is heading—technology that’s more ambient and unobtrusive. We also think it’s smarter, although that’s an overused word. Most smart things are actually quite dumb, a sensor that just feeds data to the cloud. Point is a highly capable computing platform, capable of sound recognition on it’s own while having a battery life of more than a year. Building a platform like Point that combines high computing power with low energy consumption is not an easy engineering task. It’s also an effort that is invisible in marketing material, but by having intelligence closer to people we can provide a better user experience, and at the end of the day that’s what matters most to us.

Think about the future of your company. Would you team up with other smart home players or evolve towards a wider range of smart home solutions in your company catalogue?

There is certainly room for integration. We will provide IFTTT integration from the start so that customers can begin to use Point in conjunction with other devices and services. That is one part of connecting Point to a larger ecosystem. In the future we may see more of collaborations and integrations where that makes sense for our customers, and we have a few more product ideas in the pipeline.

Top contract players are based in the US: big architecture firms like Gensler, Klingstubbins – Jacobs, Cannon design and many others. They work on specifications for turnkey projects like hotels, corporate or community buildings, infrastructures. Point could be a really cutting edge solution to boost these projects. What’s your view on this? Are you dealing with this business channel already?

We definitely see the potential of working together with partners to get Point into homes, offices, and rooms where hard security systems are not needed, cannot go, or complement existing solutions. That is on the roadmap. Right now we are focusing on delivering the best experience to our customers. Our corporate pilot customers will receive their units in April and we are looking forward to work with them and see how they are going to use Point.

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