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Crowdfunding Critic: Airfy Beacon

updated 03:32 pm EDT, Tue August 5, 2014

Home automation solution ties together existing products like Hue, Nest

Welcome to Tuesday's edition of the Crowdfunding Critic. Every Tuesday and Thursday, the staff at Electronista and MacNN take a look at a few crowdfunding requests to offer up a project that we find interesting to our readers. It's important that this isn't taken as an endorsement of the project, but rather a neat find that we think people could have an interest in. As with all crowdfunding campaigns, the ones we talk about come with risk, even if the project reaches its funding threshold. With that word of warning out of the way to encourage smart investing, this time we'll be talking about a home automation solution, the Airfy Beacon.

Airfy uses a custom-built beacon and an iOS app to communicate to automated devices many consumers are installing in search of the "smart home." Currently, the device only works with the Nest thermostat and the Philips Hue lighting system, but it appears that the team is reaching out to other manufacturers, according to the comments on the campaign. For those looking to get into the automation game, there is a pledge level that will give users the Philips Hue system, but it appears that it isn't a discount from the retail pricing.

This new device, based on Apple's iBeacon technology, works in conjunction with the app to tell the installed devices how to act through Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy communications and IFTTT. A range of options are available for the thermostat and lights, but the company states that actions can take place through proximity, time or people in the area. Things like turning on a music player or television can occur, but it appears to be tied to the plug that works with the Hue system.

The Airfy Beacon was originally a project that began its life as a concept born from the Raspberry Pi. However, over time the project turned into its own creation, and ended up being powered by two AA batteries. The company estimates that the battery life of the beacon is approximately 1.5 years.

As of the time of this post, Airfy has achieved its funding request, collecting over $35,000 on a $30,000 goal. The project still has eight days to go before completion, with a delivery estimate of October for final stage production beacons. Those looking to develop for the beacon will receive units without cases in August through a $249 pledge.

If funding hits $60,000, the company will develop an Android app that works with the Airfy Beacon. At $50 for the lowest pledge to get a beacon, it appears to be a bargain compared to some other smart plugs on the market, that use apps with limited functionality.

Many of the stages for production units have already been met, with a number of the electronic components ready for production of 1,000 units. Basic foundations for the iOS app are already set, with turning on and off lights already functioning. Construction of the units will begin in August, with the molding for the cases scheduled to be completed in September. IFTTT integration doesn't appear to be complete at this time.

The beacon also isn't the first Airfy crowdfunding campaign, as the company also launched one for a Wi-Fi hotspot on Indiegogo earlier in the year. It's said that those in the Indiegogo campaign that were to receive beacons as part of their pledge will receive them in September.

by MacNN Staff



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