In the lead-up to Batch #5 of Hardware.co (startups apply here by January 4!) we’re be interviewing the makers, movers and shakers among our alumni and community. For this edition, we sat down with Herbert Hellemann, one of the founders of alumni startup BuddyGuard to find out more about Flare, their smart home security device.
Security gadgets for the home have been around for a while, but they aren’t exactly the most appealing bits of technology. Flare seems to take home security in a whole new direction. Could you explain some of the ways your device is different to existing solutions, and why these differences matter?
Security systems haven’t evolved at the same pace as other products have. The ideal security system is one that protects home all by itself, while remaining respectful respectful of our privacy. Flare is powered with artificial intelligence that allows it to analyze and actually understand what’s happening in its surroundings. Flare connects to a first responders service and can call on emergency services on its own if necessary. But when trusted contacts are home, Flare covers up its camera lens. Users can then just go on living their lives knowing their home and privacy are protected, without feeling like they’re being watched 24/7.
To ensure your users could count on Flare no matter what, you’d have to design your product with a whole bunch of “what-if” scenarios in mind (What if my phone runs out of battery before I get home? What if my pets set off the alarm? What if a burglar forces me to enter with him?) How did you work out what features and capabilities Flare, and its customers, needed?
As Flare’s first users, we have tested it extensively. It was clear that Flare needed to be designed as a self-learning device to respond reliably in all situations. We all want to feel protected, but don’t want to waste time managing our security daily. So, we built Flare not only identify people by analysing their facial features, but to recognise dogs, cats and a diverse range of sounds too. This way Flare knows which situations are dangerous and which are not, and can take the most appropriate action. Another feature necessary to ensure users could rely on Flare its lithium-ion battery, which it switches to in the case of a power outage, as well as the 4G LTE connection that ensures it stays online even if WiFi is down.
Flare has had tonnes of great press among tech news outlets in Germany and internationally – you’ve even done interviews with major broadcasters like Deutsche Welle, CBS and BBC. What role does PR play for Buddyguard? Got any tips for hardware startups hoping to spread the word about their product via the media?
The interest we’ve received from press outlets around the world has helped us bring Flare to a broad, international market. I’d recommend hardware startups ensure they have a good press page on their site, where where journalists and bloggers can download your media kit. Emails to press should be kept very short and to the point. They receive thousands each day, so you’ve only got about two seconds to convince them that your product is worth writing about.
Flare isn’t just an IoT product – it’s also a really cool practical application of AI. How do you see the relationship between AI, Machine Learning, and the Internet of Things?
There’s plenty of noise in the ‘smart’ world, with many products and platforms that don’t fill a void but rather contaminate the perception of IoT products. Just because you can make something smart doesn’t mean you should. At BuddyGuard, we believe that AI is here to make our lives easier, to liberate us from chores and to streamline our activities.
Follow Buddyguard on Twitter to keep up with their journey!