If recent happenings in the crowdfunding scene are any indication, gizmos for repurposing your old smartphone might just be the next hot trend in tech. Earlier this week we came across a device from Palo Alto-based startup MindHelix that can turn an old/unused smartphone into a highly capable home monitoring/security device, and now, just a couple days later, yet another repurposing contraption has popped up on Kickstarter.
Designed by Arizona-based startup WiseLabs LLC, Bemo plugs into your old iPhone or Android device and transforms it into a fully-functional smart thermostat. By leveraging all the high-performance components the phone already contains –high-resolution touchscreen display, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, microphone, speakers, etc.– Bemo itself doesn’t have to do any of the heavy lifting.
The device itself is only about the size of a credit card, and works as a sort of bridge between your phone and the HVAC wiring in your wall. Once you’ve got it all rigged up, all that’s left is to download the Bemo app and fire it up. WiseLabs’ custom-built software can perform just about all the same functions you’d find in a purpose-built smart thermostat from Nest, Honeywell, and the like — remote control from your main smartphone, smart scheduling, habit learning, energy monitoring, and even proximity-based activation settings that can turn on the heat or AC before you get home.
The beauty is that, because WiseLabs doesn’t have to build all kinds of sensors into its device, and instead relies on the ones already inside your old mobile phone, they’re able to sell Bemo at a drastically lower price point than other smart thermostat companies. Whereas the going rate for most smart thermostats currently seems to hover around $250, Bemo will retail for around $130.
To kick off its first production run, the company is hoping to raise $50K over the course of the next 39 days. If you back the project now while Bemo is still in the crowdfunding stage, you can lock one down for anywhere from $99 (early bird) to $130. If you spring for the $250 backer level, WiseLabs will even throw in a brand new Android smartphone for you to use. If the project winds up being successful, the company expects to ship the first production models to backers sometime around August 2015. Find out more here.