The startup focused on developing the Smart House?!
There have been many technological advances to fundamentally alter the way we experience our day-to-lives: the internal-combustion engine, electric lights, the telephone, et al. Since the dawn of the personal computing revolution, such leaps forward have only seemed to increase in frequency. Consider the past decade alone- whether it’s Amazon and shopping, Apple’s iPod and music, or Facebook and social interaction, the complexion of the “first world” and the devices meant to help us navigate it seem to be arriving at a faster and faster clip, as entrepreneurs make for a new kind of California gold rush via Silicon Valley.
Of several potential next steps toward personalized innovation, one area drawing significant hype has to do with the concept of a “smart house” that can control everything from thermostats to coffee makers. Enter Ivee, an LA-based startup founded by Jonathon Nostrant in 2011. Initially, the company aimed to compete with the likes of Amazon’s Echo with a small microphone-like device with the capability to control multiple rooms. Now, after a partnership with the Nest thermostat-control system, Ivee has released another gizmo to connect with the modern family’s myriad of “smart” devices, this time in the form of an alarm clock called Sleek.
“The inspiration for Ivee originally came from the fact that we love the idea of a voice-activated personal assistant,” Nostrant said. “Think J.A.R.V.I.S from Iron man. We have seen this virtual assistant portrayed time and time again in science fiction. We first saw an opportunity to emulate this concept in our alarm clock and eventually bring it to your connected home.” Ivee has already established compatibility with third-party devices like WeMo, Wink, and the Logitech Harmony, and users will be able to ask questions in addition to giving commands.
To that point, it seems that one noticeable problem is one shared by several other pieces of voice-recognition hardware: difficulty recognizing slightly-irreverent, specific words like town names. “Ivee could do everything we asked of it when we followed the command list, such as turning on the radio, setting alarms, and adjusting volume and brightness settings, but it had difficulty in recognizing city names,” said PC Magazine in its’ review of the Sleek. “For example, I asked what time it was in Brooklyn, and it told me the time in Upland, California.”
Despite those drawbacks, Ivee has potential to be of great help to people with difficulty functioning in their homes. “By creating a voice-controlled gadget that connects to various devices in the home, Ivee is helping the elderly and people with disabilities have greater control over the devices they use regularly, such as lights or the television,” said Entrepreneur Magazine in its review. Nostrant agrees, insisting that his company will be at the forefront of what will eventually be a ubiquitous feature of our lives. “A lot of our product design looks intelligent and futuristic,” Nostrant said. “We started in the alarm clock niche but we are evolving past that, where although it still has many of the same features, it’s going to be so much more.”