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Rico gives your old smartphone a job in home security

Rico gives your old smartphone...
The Rico uses a spare smartphone as its brain and eyes
The Rico uses a spare smartphone as its brain and eyes
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The Rico uses a spare smartphone as its brain and eyes
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The Rico uses a spare smartphone as its brain and eyes
The Rico system caters for live streaming of a living room or office
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The Rico system caters for live streaming of a living room or office
The toy-like Rico will be available in three colors
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The toy-like Rico will be available in three colors
The Rico boasts feature set that includes a HD camera, microphone, integrated speaker, 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, and sensors that monitor humidity, temperature, air quality, carbon monoxide and motion
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The Rico boasts feature set that includes a HD camera, microphone, integrated speaker, 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, and sensors that monitor humidity, temperature, air quality, carbon monoxide and motion
The proposed combined feature set of smartphone and Rico
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The proposed combined feature set of smartphone and Rico
The Rico package will also come with smart-sockets, which cater for home appliance control via the app
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The Rico package will also come with smart-sockets, which cater for home appliance control via the app
The Rico can monitor humidity, temperature, air quality, carbon monoxide and motion
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The Rico can monitor humidity, temperature, air quality, carbon monoxide and motion
The Rico is said to offer inexpensive access to connected home security
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The Rico is said to offer inexpensive access to connected home security

Almost every day, it seems, breakfast is accompanied by the debut of a next generation smartphone that makes our perfectly capable current models look positively antiquated. Whether you patiently wait for the end of your contract before upgrading or contact your provider straight away, you're existing pocket pal will likely be retired to a powered off eternity in an infrequently opened drawer somewhere. The folks over at Mindhelix want to give that old phone a new lease of life in the Rico home security and monitoring system.

To put the toy-like Rico to work, a spare smartphone running Android 2.2 or iOS 6 and above will need a side app downloading and installing. The smartphone can then be placed within the Rico's colorful housing. Though larger phones and phablets will be too big to be used, anything with a 4.5-inch screen or smaller should be OK. The Rico unit is connected to a wall outlet and cables inside the housing ensure that the smartphone within is always charged.

Mindhelix says that the new hybrid device that results could have a combined feature set that includes a HD camera, microphone, integrated speaker, 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, and sensors that monitor humidity, temperature, air quality, carbon monoxide and motion.

Loading the companion iOS/Android app onto your current smartphone allows you to remotely connect with the Rico for a live stream of your living room or office and receive event notifications via Rico cloud servers hosted on Amazon Web Services. Users will even receive an alert if the Rico loses power or Wi-Fi.

The Rico can monitor humidity, temperature, air quality, carbon monoxide and motion
The Rico can monitor humidity, temperature, air quality, carbon monoxide and motion

"The smartphone has an incredibly powerful processor that we can use to do really cool things in the near future like image processing, voice recognition and voice commands," CEO Kallidil Kalidasan told us. "Also, all of the above features can be pushed to the users via a simple app upgrade, when traditional smarthome devices would require a core hardware firmware upgrade. These app updates can be developed much easier and also the existing app developer community can join us in the process, unlike the rigid firmware level upgrade system that traditional smarthome devices have."

The Rico package will also come with smart-sockets, which cater for home appliance control via the app – such as switching on the lights or TV while you're at the restaurant, for example.

Mindhelix currently has a working prototype of the Rico device and a companion app in the bag, but has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the final push to full production. There are three brightly-colored Rico units to choose from, though the developers are also offering a special pledge level for a Kickstarter green model. As of writing, backers can pledge US$100 for an early bird Rico and one smart-socket. If all goes to plan, the first packages will be shipped in November 2015.

Have a look at the pitch video below for an overview of how the system works.

Sources: Mindhelix, Kickstarter

5 comments
Daishi
This is a good trend, old smartphones and tablets have the potential to revolutionize household robotics. The ability to understand voice commands and intelligently navigate around a house is about all that is left to make cheap robots that are actually useful and its possible today with off the shelf tech from old smartphones. If we don't see it before project tango sees more availability we will definately see it after. I guess I would expect more large companies focusing on this specific problem but maybe that's what project Tango is about. Someone made IOIO for Android which is sort of like an arduino board but I'm still a bit surprised Google doesn't put more effort behind such things in a more official capacity. If nothing else it could be used by companies like Mindhelix to build/prototype Android based products.
Kalidasan Kallidil
Right on the point Daishi; I have been toying with the idea of creating things out of used smartphones but then it struck to me (being an entrepreneur) that consumers are the ones who will finally use such solutions and that any solution needs to get to a product level before it is thrown into the consumers hands rather than just putting out a platform just for developers to play around. If you look at it, this is why we really focused on the design of Rico and also the usability part of it. Now consumers see value and would want to be part of this movement because there is a product that they can use everyday in their homes. Thanks for covering Rico Paul and thanks for the really deep comment Daishi. Kallidil Kalidasan CEO, Co-Founder MindHelix, Inc
Volodymyr Lisivka
Yet another baby monitor. Can be easily recreated with a piece of cardboard and free app.
PolishBear
I think I'll just wait for the digital brain implant. Resistance is futile.
Bob Humbly
Awesome idea