Powered by the electrical wiring already in a home’s walls, a $299 sensor system to be launched this spring could save homeowners from dealing with flooded basements, mold, and other moisture- and temperature-related issues.
“It turns your house into a gigantic receiving antenna,” says Jacquelyn Jaech, vice president of marketing for SNUPI Technologies, the Seattle-based company that created Wally, a plug-in sensor with small, clam-shaped wireless nodes that a homeowner can push into a tight spot under a washing machine, hide inside the cabinet under a kitchen sink, or stow in an attic to sense higher-than-normal moisture, humidity, and temperatures. Once a node senses trouble, the system immediately alerts the homeowner via email or text while there’s still time to head it off, according to SNUPI.
“My first thought as soon as I heard about it was about all the times I’ve been called in for a burst pipe, a leak, a washing machine hose that broke, a sink that overflowed with water,” says Craig Davis, president of Norm Davis Builder in Seattle. “Here’s a product that can nip the problem in the bud before there’s much damage.”
SNUPI Technologies’ CEO and founder, entrepreneur Jeremy Jaech, was a creator of the Aldus desktop publishing system PageMaker and was a co-founder of Visio, which pioneered business diagrams and 2D technical drawing. For his latest startup, Jeremy Jaech partnered with a pair of University of Washington engineering professors who devised a new kind of wireless system that uses a building’s existing electrical wiring as an antenna. Using that system, the Wally hub plugs into any household outlet—so there’s nothing to install—and wirelessly communicates with its six sensors, which the homeowner can place anywhere in the house. The hub also connects to the Internet via an Ethernet cable, allowing for communication with the manufacturer and the homeowner.
Unlike other household sensors on the market or on the drawing board, the low-power Wally requires no maintenance or battery changes and will last for 10 years, according to Jacquelyn Jaech, the CEO’s wife. She added that users may qualify for discounts on their homeowner’s insurance premiums.
Wally, named for the walls whose wiring it taps, will be available at home shows and through its Web site, www.wally-home.com, only. Jacquelyn Jaech says the product’s next generations likely will detect air quality and security breaches.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Seattle, WA.