Bangalore-based Connovate Technology has raised $135,410 from Indiegogo to build Gecko bluetooth tags that will let people control and spot various objects around you using a smartphone. It has received pre-orders for over 7,500 devices till now through the service and more than 40 retailers from around the world have approached them to sell their product.
Connovate COO Kirankumar Rajarao said that most of the pre-orders were from US, followed by UK and Germany. “Around 500 devices were ordered from India and we even received orders from Croatia and Cyprus. Overall people from 68 countries ordered the device,” Rajarao said. The device got a big boost when Steve Wozniak posted a tweet praising it.
Connovate hasn’t raised funding from anyone else and the team has been working on this device since November last year. During the crowdfunding phase, the devices were being sold in packs to two priced at $40, however once it finish shipping these orders it will available through the company’s website at a higher price tag. It will also be available in retail. “We have got commitments from several Indian e-commerce retailers too and we’ll approach them again with a new price tag very soon. The device will be priced in such a way that there is enough margin for them and us,” Rajarao said.
Bluetooth limitations: The device only works with iOS and Android devices that have Bluetooth 4.0 aka Bluetooth Low Energy technology. Among Android devices support for this technology was added only in Jelly Bean (4.3) so those with devices that has BLE but run on an older version of OS, will not be able to use these tags. Several smartphones shipped with BLE support even before the launch of 4.3, but they used different APIs and libraries leading to several issues for devices that were dependent on this technology.
Internet of things: The phrase ‘Internet of things’ was first coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton and reached its peak a few years back. However, we are seeing the term come up more and more as devices like Nest, Tile and Gecko hit the market.
This rising interest for such connected devices has gained the attention of US Federal Trade Commission that is now discussing ways to regulate these devices to ensure privacy of users and security of data it holds. As they become popular there is a high risk of these devices being targeted by hackers. According to researcher IMS 22 billion web-connected devices will generate more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data every day by 2020.
Apart from Gecko, Connovate is building a whole array of such devices that use good-old bluetooth to connect these otherwise isolated devices to the Internet via a smartphone. It recently launched Connovate Weigh Smart and are now in the process of building an ecosystem around it. The device comes with its own custom app using which a person can log weight and even connect to Run Keeper to create some actionable information from it. This product is currently being sold only in India through a few online channels such as eBay. However, the company is in talks with various parties to launch the product internationally. Weigh Smart sounds quite similar to Fitbit Aria, except it uses bluetooth instead of WiFi.
It is also working on a smartwatch that will again use bluetooth to connect to the phone. In theory it sounds like Samsung Galaxy Gear, but the company’s focus seems to be on fitness category going by this blog post from earlier this year. Smartwatch space is also an interesting one and it will soon move out of accessory space. We already have companies such as Delhi-based An.droid.ly working on such a concept watch though it’ll be a while before they can catch up with smartphones in terms of speed and capabilities.
Connovate is also bringing out an analogue wall clock that can correct the time on its own by connecting to a smartphone and we’ll be hearing more about them soon according to Rajarao.