NEW YORK — Startup Playtabase aims to take gesture control for home automation beyond the old gimmick of clapping to turn on the lights. Its Reemo system is positioned as a bridge product targeting ease of access and consumer health, with support from Microsoft Ventures Accelerator and American Family Insurance.
The Reemo system includes a wristband, hub, and receivers that work with devices around the home and in offices to automate control of lights, computers, and televisions. A smart plug connects the electronics and allows users to point-and-click or power on and off with simple hand gestures while wearing the wristband.
“The Internet of Things, and home automation in particular, is rapidly emerging,” Steven
Guggenheimer, Microsoft’s corporate VP and chief evangelist, wrote in a blog.
“With consumer demand growing for solutions that are intuitive, connected, and affordable, we think there will be great demand for wearables like Reemo that unify the Internet of Things.”
The wristband uses an ARM M3 processor and two types of motion-sensing chips -- a low-resolution, low-fidelity accelerometer chip that can interrupt the processor, and a high-powered, high-resolution 9-axis IMU with accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer. An ARM M0 processor runs the smart plug and receiver, which also serves as a charging pad.
Reemo supports various configurations and privacy settings, with one-to-many or one-to-one control of various appliances and devices. The receiver hub maintains a record of all receivers or smart plugs, and users can assign which can be controlled via a mobile app or website. None of the hardware uses a real-time operating system, opting for embedded development in microcontrollers to decrease power consumption and latency.
“We allow you to automate things you do with minor degrees and variance,” Playtabase CTO Ahmed Daoud told EE Times. “We’re finding that sweet spot in between direct control and home automation.”
The wristband lasts three days on a charge. Playtabase hopes to expand that time period to a week. The receiver runs on a coin cell battery. Daoud added that the beta Reemo wristband charges with pogo pins on a contact pad, but the company is testing inductive wireless charging.
All the startup's devices connect over Bluetooth, which Daoud believes will be the marketplace champion.
“We came into the home automation space at time where there are a lot of competing modalities. It is our strong belief that Bluetooth Low Energy is going to emerge as the winner because it’s been able to keep up the most and evolve the fastest. Zigbee and Z-Wave haven’t experienced the same kind of evolution, and WiFi tends to be cumbersome.”
Playtabase also designed Reemo as a health and movement tracker, and is testing gesture algorithms to conduct real-time processing and buffering of motion data. Advanced algorithms that allow users to perform gestures differently could benefit elderly or motion-challenged wearers.
“Some of the biggest pain points for adult children of elderly individuals is knowing their parents are doing OK. This is peace of mind in a proactive way,” says Daoud. “We’re working on heat-mapping trends and understanding behaviors of people and groups. I think there’s a lot of value to be generated there, and we would be remiss to dismiss that.”
Playtabase has manufactured all hardware in-house and recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to further production efforts. The company hopes to raise $50,000 to fund Reemo’s launch in spring 2015.
— Jessica Lipsky, Associate Editor, EE Times