Oort Internet of Things Hub and Devices. Photo: AFP
Oort wants to be the internet of all things to all people and the project is so ambitious that it might just succeed.
Its goal is to give consumers control over all of their appliances and devices via their iPhone or Android handset, even if the appliance in question wasn't 'smart' to begin with.
The truly smart, connected home is just around the corner; research firm IDC believes that it will be a $7 trillion industry before the end of the decade, and what Oort potentially offers is a vision of that future today. If its Kickstarter campaign, which launched Tuesday, is successful.
So what makes it special? Its scope, and the possibilities it offers consumers in terms of control and automation. Built around a central hub, Oort's system extends to smart power sockets, beacons, sensors and tags that can be applied to do everything from remotely track and control the amount of energy the TV is using, to keeping tabs on errant pets and easily mislaid devices. It can even tell you if the plants need watering.
The key to all of this interconnectivity is the fact that the hub uses Bluetooth Low Energy to connect to a smartphone and to communicate with other devices, rather than other Internet of Things standards. This means that it can potentially integrate with anything else that supports Bluetooth. Initial set-up is also automated, and that will help demystify the concept of connected homes for a number of consumers.
However, for the more adventurous, the set of devices -- which includes proximity sensors, thermometers and even an air quality sensor -- can be set up to create a host of automation possibilities. For instance locking the doors when the dog or cat goes out or unlocking the windows when air quality drops below a certain level. Or simply automatically turning off appliances when they're not in use.
As Oort's founder and CEO Radek Tadajewski explains: "Our main goal is to set people's creativity free. Only your imagination limits how and where you want to use Oort."
The company also believes that cost could prove to be an issue with many people's imagination and so wants to be able to sell the hub for $99 this summer and that will only be possible if the project hits its initial funding goal of $100,000.
Hitting the target will also enable the company to put its beacons and sensors into production with a scheduled launch this autumn.