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Last week, the Roost Smart Battery was a great idea

Michael Brown | Oct. 23, 2014
The Roost Smart Battery's 15 minutes of fame might have ended before it started thanks to Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight

Roost Smart Battery

Roost CEO Roel Peeters thought he had a better mousetrap. Knowing how annoying it is to be awakened at 3 a.m. by a chirping smoke alarm with a dying battery, he invented a smoke-alarm battery with an embedded Wi-Fi chip that sends an alert to your smartphone before it's drained to that level. Even better, his battery sends a message when your smoke alarm alerts you to fire.

But the Roost Smart Battery's 15 minutes of fame might have ended before it started. You see, 15 minutes ago, Leeo announced the Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight. The Leeo will also send a message when your smoke alarm goes off--but unlike a battery, it never wears out. And unlike the Roost Smart Battery, you can buy one today.

Then again, I could be wrong. Maybe people will think Roost has the better idea after all. Let me tell you about it so you can decide for yourself.

Roost's founders--CEO Roel Peeters and CTO James Blackwell--each have 20 years of experience designing and building low-power Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips. They clearly know their stuff. And Peeters shared some keen insight when I spoke with him last week.

"All the players in the Internet of Things market are looking around the home and asking How can we connect all these devices: the refrigerator, the dishwasher,'" he said. "I think that's the wrong question. Who really cares if the dishwasher sends a message to my phone telling me the dishes are clean? Instead of connecting devices, we should focus on making data connected. If your smoke alarm goes off, that becomes an extremely valuable data point that you want to be aware of."

A better battery?

Peeters wants to go after the 350-million-unit-strong U.S. smoke-detector market. "The Roost Smart Battery looks and acts like a 9-volt battery," he said. "But it has a Wi-Fi enabled, cloud-connected sensor that knows when the alarm goes off. This is paired with a smartphone app. A push notification lets the user know when the alarm is going off. You can program the app with your local emergency response number, so that when you get the notification, you're one click away from reaching someone who can do something about it."

That's the same idea behind the Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight. I learned about both products under the terms of embargoes, so I must presume that neither company knew what the other was developing.

Now that both products are public knowledge, maybe Peeters will be able to explain why his product will be better, or at least complementary to the other. The same goes for the folks at Leeo, of course. I'll let you know what I learn from both parties.


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