We typically do no cover moonshot projects until and unless they result in available, shipping product. This includes most crowd-sourced products and any pre-order announcements from relatively unknown brands. You never can tell which of these products will actually ship, and we don’t want to get readers excited about something that isn’t even “real” yet.
CES, of course, is rife with product announcements, and some of those never make it into production. Even big companies like Intel and LG don’t always end up shipping some products they promote at CES. (This might finally be the year for that rolling TV!)
If you like that kind of speculation, though, there’s an entire expo floor at CES called Eureka Park. It’s populated with startups and companies hoping for a chance to get their product seen. Usually these wares aren’t available yet—they’re showing prototypes. And that was entirely the case for two particular smart home products that inspired us enough to take notice.
Smart locks are getting popular enough so as to almost be a commodity. Even if we haven’t fully figured out standards and battery life, the market has many available offerings. What nobody’s fully solved for yet, though, is the sliding door. How do you create a smart lock for a product that often has a built-in latch-style lock from the door manufacturer itself?
An innovation group out of the University of Notre Dame thinks they have the solution. Their device, called SafeSlide, solves the problem with a pin-style lock that inserts into a thin steel plate adhered to the outer-most glass door. The overall solution is rather ingenious. The team assures that the adhesive they’ve worked with multiple partners to perfect can withstand any forced-entry attempt to rip the plate off the door.
Using Bluetooth, and accessible remotely through a Wi-Fi bridge, SafeSlide lets you lock and unlock manually or through an app. The bridge will also make it possible to use a voice assistant. We saw a prototype of the unit, and it’s fairly unobtrusive. In fact, you might argue it looks better than most traditional smart locks you’d use on any other swing door. The prototype we saw (pictured here) was white. We suggested they might also want to consider making it in black for doors with dark frames.
The group is currently working with Allegion (home of the Schlage lock brand) to bring the lock to market. It’s unclear what brand SafeSlide might carry, but other lock manufacturers should be paying attention (and from the sounds of it, many visited the booth). Pricing isn’t set yet. They’re shooting for something around the $200 range, which seems entirely aligned with the market for smart locks. They’re hoping to ship by the middle of the year.
The other product that caught our attention was [SURPRISE:] a lighting solution. Luminook is a battery-operated lighting kit designed to frame the interior of a doorframe for a closet or pantry that otherwise has no actual light source. Think of most closets or pantries.
A strip of high-quality (high CRI) LEDs provides the light, while a large, removable, rechargeable battery pack provides the power at the base of the door. That base also includes sensors designed to detect when the close door opens or, in case of an open archway, when the threshold is crossed (say, by reaching into the closet).
You can adjust how bright and what white-tone (yep…white-tunable closet lighting) you want the light to be. For example, in the morning, you may want a color closer to daylight to pick out your clothes, while in the evening, you may just want a soft warm tone that won’t unnecessarily awaken you when you go to put away that sport coat you picked out earlier. The light can even adjust automatically based on ambient light or sun position.
Luminook is already fully funded through its Kickstarter campaign, which still has about a month to go as of this writing. Pre-orders for a single-door opening are $65, expected to retail a bit over $90; double-door opening pre-orders are $69 with an expected retail price of $100. They expect to deliver Luminook in October 2020.
Perhaps not surprisingly, I’ve back this.