Last year Piper raised over three times its targeted amount via an Indiegogo campaign. The device incorporates a wide-angle camera, motion detector, speaker, microphone, siren, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave controller and sensors for humidity, temperature, sound and ambient light. It can be mounted on a wall or simply placed on flat surface, and an accompanying app allows users to interact with, and control, it. Up to five Pipers can be managed with the app.
First and foremost, Piper provides a video feed that users can remote monitor the home via the app. A 180° fish-eye lens aims to provide a full-view of a room in one shot, and users can also pan and zoom as required. Live video can be accessed using the app, and videos of triggered recordings are saved to Piper's servers in the cloud. The device also monitors temperature, humidity, ambient light and sound levels, as well as providing two-way audio.
Perhaps the device's most useful functionality is its home automation feature. It can be programmed to perform actions or send notifications when it senses certain things. For example, if movement is detected, a message can be sent to the user, who can then launch the app and check on their home via the video feed. The device's Z-Wave capability means it can communicate with other Z-Wave devices, allowing users to control things like lighting or heating.
Gizmag spoke to Blacksumac about the inspiration and creation process for Piper. The idea for the device came from CEO and co-founder Russell Ure, who wanted to ensure that his daughters would return home safely to their apartments at night, but felt that there wasn't anything suitable for apartment renters.
To go about creating Piper, the team started with lots of ideas and concepts, before narrowing them down and refining the vision. "All the time we kept asking ourselves, who do we each know who had little interest in technology, and how would they find our technology useful?" said a company spokesperson. "Busy people who had little interest figuring out technology were our benchmark for usability."
In order to test the simplicity of the device, two focus groups that exemplified this mindset were put together and every feature measured against whether or not the groups would be happy with it.
Piper's portability and adaptability have spawned a variety of applications. So far, Blacksumac has been asked about taking the device traveling, using it to monitor sick or infirm elderly parents, and using it in a greenhouse environment. Customers have included farmers, veterinary clinics and dentists.
Blacksumac believes that the future of the smart home will be guided by technology that anticipates what we need and is controlled naturally. "The smart, connected home is becoming more and more accessible to consumers than ever before," the company rep explained. "We're going to see more demand from consumers to have the ability to interact with their homes in a simple and seamless way."
Piper, which was named a Design and Engineering Awards Honoree at CES 2014, is available now in the US, retailing from US$239. It will be launching in the EU later this year.
Watch the video below to find out more about Piper.