If the Talking Heads were to re-record their 1983 hit single, "Burning Down the House," they would need to update the lyrics to "The house never burned down."
That's because an increasing number of homeowners are getting smarter about home protection by connecting their appliances to each other. In technology parlance, this is known as the "Internet of Things" (IOT), a network of physical gadgets and objects that communicate with each other, so that they can be monitored and remotely controlled. According to Gartner, 4.9 billion "things" are likely already connected, and by 2020, there will be 25 billion. Several start-ups are looking to capitalize on the opportunity.
One of these firms is Leeo. CEO Adam Gettings started the company for a deeply personal reason: A friend's house burned down due to an electrical fire, and everything was lost -- including three cats. Gettings believed that the damage could have been prevented, if only someone could have heard the alarms. A veteran of the robotics space, Gettings set out to create Leeo.
His company recently rolled out its Smart Alert gadget, which is plug-and-play and easy to use. Take it out of the box and plug into an electrical socket. It is equipped with microphones and sensors that listen to the frequency of your home's smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. The device, which is connected to the Internet via your Wi-Fi network, will call your phone and send an alert with the number for first responders if there's a problem. And if you don't pick up, it will automatically notify an emergency contact. It also illuminates to act as a night light. It has a clean design and is easy to use but only comes in one color (white). You should check to see if it works with your home decor -- and your existing home alarm -- just to be safe.
The simplicity of the use-case belies the complexity of the technology.