Webee Universe Brings Smart Homes into the Now

Out of Miami, Webee Universe is building a smart home automation technology that learns from users' habits, schedules and needs.

Smart homes are no longer a thing of the future. In fact, the Jetsons-reminiscent way of living is becoming more and more of a reality each and every day. Out of Miami, Webee Universe is one of the entities forging the way.

Webee is a plug and play smart home automation technology that is both affordable and easy to use. It allows users to control a wide variety of household items, from televisions and stereo systems to coffee makers and light switches, through the Webee Boss hub and the linked app. Moreover, it requires no appliance updates – consumers can purchase Bees to be attached to any household item.

What sets Webee apart from other home automation companies is that the technology has the ability to learn. In other words, it adapts to the individual habits, schedules and lifestyles of users to optimize experience and efficiency.

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To get this budding startup off the ground, the Webee team has launched a crowdfunding campaign with Indiegogo. The company is in search of US$100,000 to boost development and get the word out to (and feedback from) consumers.

Lucas Funes, Founder and CEO of Webee, filled us in on the technology.

Emily Stewart: This isn’t your first startup. How did you arrive at this concept now?

20111014_LucasFunes_EnOrbita_wLucas Funes: That is right, I’ve been working developing startups for more than 10 years, but this home automation project has come with me all the way! I started off with the idea as my electrical engineering thesis, and from that moment on, I looked for different options to make it real, tried different technologies and processes to make it happen. 

At the beginning of this year, I finally found the appropriate technology with a business model that could let me keep affordable prices to make it available for everyone.

ES: The smart space thing sounds like a neat idea, but how close is it to really being a reality?

LF: It is already real. You will be able to see our testing in the next couple of weeks.

The whole internet of things concepts is the future of data and technology. This system has the ability to collect data that is key to being able to offer customized options for people to live more efficient lives. 

There are many smart objects available already on the market, and more and more options are coming out. I can see a difference between markets, though. The real challenge for now is to have infrastructure that allows all of these technologies to deploy, what I mean by this are security protocols, broadband connections and mobility. As for smart spaces, it will eventually be the future, and you won’t live without it. 

ES: Given the growing obesity problem in the States and all over the world, do you think we really need a solution that lets us move even less than we already do?

LF: Smart automation is not about not doing things, it is about doing them in a more efficient and profitable way. For instance, it is not about not standing up to turn off the light, it is about saving the energy consumption lost when you leave home and you forgot to turn it off. Webee can also save you tons of time that you can then invest in outdoor activities, for instance. Webee allows you to control your home from anywhere.

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ES: You’ve gone at this by way of an Indiegogo campaign. Why go that route?

LF: We wanted to test the concept and different aspects of the campaign with a crowd that is more related to innovative proposals. We are getting tons of improvement areas and features while we receive feedback from our potential clients. At the same time, we are facing our mass scale production stage, and it would help us get funding for that, too.

ES: Who are you targeting this solution at initially? What markets?

LF: As for now, and for the first stage, we are facing the most advanced countries for this type of technology: the U.S., U.K. and Australia, mainly. The second stage of the project is to bring it to Latin America as the market becomes more mature