The HelloHive team developed a smart home temperature-monitoring system to win Startup Weekend KC.
KANSAS CITY—On a chilly winter morning, it’s easy to understand the appeal of smart home technology. If the heat from the living room isn’t making it to your frosty bedroom, shouldn’t your home be able to automatically open vents and reroute the air flow?
Earlier this month, the three-person Hello Hive team competed against six other teams, ranging from an app to amplify your phone speakers to a group interested in more deeply engaging the community. In the end, HelloHive took home the top prize for the smart home temperature-monitoring prototype they built over the course of a weekend.
We caught up with the HelloHive team to learn more about the idea they developed during the weekend-long competition and what their plans are for the future:
SPN: Where’d the idea for HelloHive come from?
Hello Hive: The idea came from a problem we experienced ourselves this winter, and what we feel is a common problem to a lot of other Midwesterners. You find yourself bundled up in 12 layers in your bedroom in the morning, but a quick walk to your living room and it’s 90 degrees. We set out to make an easier way to direct the heat to where it needs to be. Our idea was to build a conscious system that could automatically shut the vent to your sweltering living room and send more of that energy to the bedroom, hopefully making it easier to get out of your cozy bed in the morning.
SPN: Tell us a little bit about the end product your team created.
HH: Over the weekend, we wanted to build a minimum working prototype to prove our concept. Our idea was to regulate temperature between different rooms of your home by automatically opening and closing your vents. For example, when you’re heating your home and HelloHive smart temp sensors see that your bedroom is colder than your living room they will push a message to the smart vent in your living room and close off the air, sending more heat to your bedroom.
We built a temperature and humidity sensor that sent data to the cloud and we projected the refined data from the cloud to a dashboard on our website. This sensor communicated with a 3D printed vent controller we created which allowed the vent to be opened and closed. Our prototype was basic, but the focus was on making a minimum viable product in 56 hours. We are now working on building a more streamlined prototype to test in our homes.
SPN: What was your process during Startup Weekend? How did your team work to get things built?HH: First off, we want to say that KC Startup Weekend was an awesome experience, and the community in KC is incredibly talented and supportive. Our Startup Weekend team consisted of three members (pictured left): Phaneendra Brahmadevara, Chris Fisher and Ben Abbott. Phani gave the pitch for HelloHive on Friday night and the rest of the team joined forces for the weekend.
As a small team we had some pros and cons: we were agile, but we each had a ton to do. Phaneendra focused on building the prototype smart-temp sensor and connecting to the cloud. Chris built the dashboard to connect and display the information from the prototype. And Ben put together market research, financials and a marketing plan for the pitch on Sunday to judges. Because time was short, we put a limit on how long we could spend on any decision and when time was up we put it to a majority vote. We were determined to focus our energy only on projects that added value. On Sunday we went up against six other teams in five-minute pitches, the whole experience was fantastic and we’d recommend it to anybody.
SPN: Why do you think this growing trend for smart home technology—Nest, SmartThings—is important?
HH: We believe smart home technology is going to change our lives in ways that we can’t even predict, just like smartphones have. One day we’ll look back before home automation and think, “How did I ever survive without this?” We’re excited to be on the edge of an expanding industry, and we anticipate a lot of great products to come out in the next few years. There will be a lot of opportunities for smart home devices to build upon each other and communicate with many different devices in your home.
New products on the market present challenges with compatibility, which we plan to overcome by releasing APIs for HelloHive devices. Ultimately we’re excited about HelloHive, but we also have our sights on all kinds of other home automation ideas. We’ll see what the future will bring.