French startup Sevenhugs is re-inventing family-friendly technology with hugOne and Smart Remote. Easy to use and intuitive, these products are helping to simplify the smart home experience for families. Adelle King reports.
Sevenhugs, which was founded in 2014 by four Frenchmen, Simon Tchedikian, Stephane Jaubertou, Lionel Marty and Olivier Mandine, has raised more than $US17 ($AUD22.6) million through venture capital investment and an additional $US1.4 ($AUD1.8) million through Kickstarter and pre-order campaigns to develop two products designed to reduce complexity and fragmentation in the connected home market.
The first product launched was hugOne, a sleep tracking device that provides feedback about how the entire family unit is sleeping to help establish better sleeping cycles.
Sevenhugs worked with German doctors to integrate an algorithm into the device that adapts to sleep patterns. This enables the hugOne to track sleep, provide detailed analysis of sleep cycles and create a ‘sleep score’ that shows sleep quality for up to eight users.
“The founders all had young children at the time and there was really no product in the market that tracked the sleeping patterns of kids and parents or provided insights and data for a family. Studies have shown the majority of children do not get enough sleep so the need to improve sleeping patterns for the entire family was apparent,” says Sevenhugs head of marketing Matthew Brown.
The hugOne system contains a base station and up to eight ‘mini hugs’, small sensors that connect to the base via proprietary radio signals. The mini hugs sit at the top corner of a mattress to measure movement during sleep and track environmental factors such as humidity, air quality and temperature. They can also be connected to smart devices, including thermostats and light bulbs.
hugOne has been designed to fully integrate with smart home systems and can be integrated with Nest Learning Thermostat to create the optimal temperature to induce sleep, as well as Phillip’s Hue smart LED lighting system to simulate sunset and sunrise times. It’s also compatible with Amazon Alexa and can be connected with a smart alarm to wake users when it’s best for their REM cycle.
To alleviate concerns about electronic transmissions during sleep, the mini hugs stop sending radio signals when they determine a user is asleep and instead simply record the data. Once the user is awake the mini hugs turn the transmissions back on and relay the information collected back to the base. The base, which is connected to the internet, syncs all the data with the hugOne app, which generates personalised advice and sleep insight.
“hugOne empowers families to create healther and smarter homes,” says Matthew.
After the success of hugOne, including raising $US14.6 ($AUD19.4) million through Series A investment, Sevenhugs began developing Smart Remote, which allows users to control everything in the home with one device.
The Smart Remote uses Point & Control Technology to adapt its screen instantly to the device it’s being pointed at, enabling the screen to work automatically with over 400,000 devices. It combines an indoor positioning system with three room sensors, installed on walls within line of sight of each other, to identify its location and orientation in space. It also has built-in gyroscope and accelerometer, so once users have taught the remote the layout of the room using the app, it knows exactly what device it’s being pointed at. The Smart Remote then automatically shows users a screen to take control of the device and will send controls via Bluetooth, WiFi or infrared.
“This is the key innovation that Smart Remote offers and it’s really a magical experience. Anyone can pick up the remote, point it at any device in the room and easily control it all. It feels like a magic wand when you’re using it,” says Matthew.
The point and control technology has been tested to 100m2, which Sevenhugs is calling the ‘smart zone’. Although Point & Control Technology won’t work outside this zone, the Smart Remote will still be able to control devices through manual selection on the screen if it’s moved away from the sensors.
The Smart Remote is still in the prototype stage so the range of smart devices it currently supports is limited but already it includes Samsung smart TVs, Sonos speakers, Nest Learning Thermostat and Phillips Hue and LIFX smart light bulbs. Sevenhugs also plans to offer an open application programming interface (API) and software development kit (SDK) to allow anyone to contribute custom device types and interfaces.
“There’s an exciting roadmap of new products, features and experiences that we’re going to be unlocking over time with Smart Remote. We’re building a product that is going to make bringing technology into our homes effortless, simple and incredibly easy,” says Matthew.
The Smart Remote has been designed so that anyone in the home can learn how to use it within a matter of seconds. Matthew says it’s a modern twist on a device everyone understands so it appeals to people who are put off by the complexity of smart homes.
“For a lot of people, the technology available now isn’t consumer-friendly and there’s a lot of set-up involved. Smart Remote eliminates all the complexity and makes controlling your TV and connected devices easy. It’s a product that’s building a bridge between mainstream consumers and cutting-edge technology.”