Revolv Flips Switch on its Smart Hub to Unite Home Automation Devices

11/13/13Follow @MichaelXBD

There are a lot of companies that say they can make your home electronics and appliances smarter. Sonos, Phillips, Belkin, Honeywell, Trane, Kwikset, Yale, and of course Nest all sell products that automate stereos, lights, thermostats, and locks. The list of manufactures and products is sure to grow.

But who’s building the device that makes all those other gadgets smarter? The single tool that will make all those devices talk to each other and work in harmony—or at least not require users to jump between different apps for each device or brand?

Revolv is trying to be that company. The Boulder, CO-based startup doesn’t make smart devices like locks or thermostats. Instead, Revolv makes a smart home hub and an iOS app that give users the ability to control devices from different manufacturers using a single app on their iPhones or iPads. (Users must have iOS 6 or later, according to Revolv. An Android version has not been released.)

Revolv on Tuesday began shipping its hub, which it calls the Smart Hub Solution, to pre-order customers today. It’s also selling through its website and through Amazon. The hub sells for $299.

In theory, Revolv’s hub is the missing link consumers need to turn their separately operated smart devices into a smart home. To be able to connect to the devices, the company had to pack seven wireless radios that can use 10 different languages in the hub. Revolv promises that hundreds of devices will be compatible with its hub within months, and it will eventually connect with 95 percent of available devices. At this time, the list of devices does not include those made by Nest.

Also, there’s no limit to the number of devices that can connect to a single hub, and multiple phones or iPads can control a hub. Revolv hubs also don’t need Ethernet cables and are supposed to be able to connect to a home WiFi system within a minute.

Revolv also says its software is able to tell when a user is approaching home through a phone’s GPS connection.

The product has come a long way since Revolv’s founders were part of the 2012 Techstars Boulder program. Back then the startup was named Mobiplug, and its original idea was to build smart devices and enter a crowded market alongside established home electronics giants like GE and Phillips and hot startups like Nest.

The vision quickly shifted to letting those companies fight each other to sell devices while developing the hub that could control them all. By the end of Techstars, Mobiplug had a prototype display that consisted of exposed circuit board, antennas, and wires that could control a few power outlets and switches.

It also left with a new CEO, Tim Enwall, who co-founded Tendril Networks and was its CEO, chief operating officer, and chief information officer before leaving the company. Boulder-based Tendril at one point built smart devices before pivoting to develop software utilities could use to manage the smart grid.

Within a few weeks of Techstars, Revolv had closed a $2.7 million Series A round led by the Foundry Group. David Cohen, SK Ventures, Social Leverage, and Clarion Direct Investment were among the other investors who participated.

Michael Davidson is the editor of Xconomy Boulder/Denver. He covers startups, venture capital, clean tech, energy, aerospace, telecoms, and whatever else happens above 5,280 feet. Contact him at mdavidson@xconomy.com. Follow @MichaelXBD

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