Now that the connected home zeitgeist really started to take off, there are approximately half a zillion different “smart plugs” and “smart outlets” on the market right now. They come in all manner of different shapes and sizes, and for the most part, they all serve the same purpose: helping you monitor/control/reduce your electricity usage. Brio, however, is different.
Rather than focusing solely on energy efficiency, or giving you the ability to turn your lamp off with your smartphone, Brio aims to make your home safer, particularly for small children. It’s designed to eliminate the risk of electric shock when foreign objects (fingers, paperclips, army men, etc.) get jammed into the outlet. How? Well unlike traditional outlets, which are always live, Brio will remain “off” until it senses an actual plug with a valid electrical load.
This way, you don’t have to worry about outfitting every outlet in your house with safety caps (which, it’s worth mentioning, are hardly child-proof). Even if little Jimmy crams a salad fork into the hole, Brio won’t turn on.
“A lot of people say to us, ‘Why hasn’t anyone though of this before?'” Brio spokeswoman Jocelyn Painter tells Digital Trends. Every day, nearly seven children are treated for burns or electrical shocks from outlets, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International. The Brio safety outlet is a project close to Painter’s heart, as the one-year-old daughter of a close friend was badly burned by an outlet, requiring multiple plastic surgeries as a result. “As someone who’s experience this first-hand with my friend, I said, ‘We need this,'” says Painter.
The Brio team is also working to build sensors into the outlet, which will give it the ability to communicate wirelessly with your smartphone and other connected home devices. But they need help. The team has recently taken to Kickstarter in hopes of raising about $50K to jumpstart production.”The possibilities are endless,” Painter says of the connected outlet, which will have the same safety features as the Safe outlet but will also function as a hub for smart homes, detecting flooding, smoke, and carbon monoxide.
You can pre-order a Brio outlet for a pledge of just $40, and if everything goes as planned, the creators expect to ship the first units to backers as early as May 2015.