This is a bit of a different post to my usual ones.
In this post I will examine a company that makes smart devices.
Keen Home is a bit unique not because it is a tech start up- after all, lots of companies that make smart devices, are start up.
It is unique because of the way that it first came to our attention- via a TV show.
And so in this article, I answer lots of frequently asked questions about them…
Who or what is Keen Home?
Keen Home is a tech startup company that wants to make your home a sanctuary by making it “smarter, more efficient and comfortable”.
They would like to make your home much more intelligent and beautiful so that it can take care of you instead of you taking care of it.
And that is a pretty big ask!
When was it founded?
Keen Home burst onto the scene in February 2015 when the co-founders pitched to the Sharks on ABC’s “Shark Tank”.
Shark Tank is a reality TV show that has been running since 2009 and allows budding entrepreneurs to pitch a business idea to 5 investors to see if they will invest.
One of the sharks did invest and has been working with Keen Home ever since.
Who are the Owners?
[table id=301 /]
Nayeem Hussain and Ryan Fant pitched to the Sharks.
Nayeem is the co-founder and CEO of Keen Home.
Ryan is the co-founder and COO of Keen Home.
Robert Herjavec is the shark that invested in them and is still involved today.
What product(s) do they sell?
The original, best known and best selling product is called a Smart Vent. This is a vent that controls the flow of air into a room.
It is controlled remotely via an app on your smartphone or tablet.
There is a short but terrific video giving you a 360° view of a smart vent and you can watch it here.
Other products that they make are to complement the function of the Smart Vent;
The Smart Filter
This is filter sits in the Smart Vent and neutralises odours as well as trapping allergens
These are adapters that enable the Smart Vent to be fit in lots of different duct sizes.
The Smart Bridge
The Smart Bridge connects the Smart Vents to the Internet and to each other.
I think that it is important to say that these four products are only the start for a company that has a bold vision to become one of the biggest manufacturers of smart devices for your home.
Why are the products important?
Let’s focus on the Smart Vent.
The Smart Vent wants to solve two problems in your home.
Firstly it wants to give you much better control of the temperature in your house on a room by room basis. It does this by redirecting the air from your heating or cooling system.
Secondly, by doing this, it wants to save you money on your energy bills.
How big is the problem?
The 2009 Census established that that there are 100 million homes in the US that have a HVAC (Heating, Ventilation And Cooling) system.
On average 4 rooms per household are either too hot or too cold so that is about 400 million rooms in the US do not have a “comfortable” temperature in them.
One of the big reasons that homes have rooms that are at the wrong temperature is because most homes only have one thermostat.
The biggest problem with thermostats up until this point is that they control the temperature of the whole house whilst only knowing the temperature in one room.
OK, so you can argue that there has been some progress with the use of zoning on some systems but this is only a partial solution.
Zoning doesn’t give you temperature control on a room by room basis which the Smart Vent does.
Why is the problem important?
The problem is important because of how much it costs.
The average household in the US spends $2000 a year on its energy bills and 50% of that (or $1000) is spent on heating and cooling systems.
And so, any system that lets us heat and cool our homes more cost effectively has got to be a positive thing.
How successful are Keen Home?
The quick answer to that seems to be “very successful”!
Soon after the Shark Tank show in February 2015, a website was launched and people across North America were able to pre order a Smart Vent at a 30% discount.
And thousands were ordered.
The first Smart Vents were due to be shipped in the Summer of 2015 but delays meant that the first vents were not shipped until November 2015.
In January 2016, at CES (Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas) the Smart Filter was launched.
The filters clip inside the Smart Vents.
By June 2016, thirty thousand Smart Vents had been shipped.
And in August 2016 Trim Kits were launched.
How are the products setup and controlled?
These are controlled by an app for your smartphone or tablet.
In order to run it on your Android phone or tablet, your device needs to be running version 4.0.3 or above.
At the time of writing (February 2017) the app has been downloaded and installed on less than 5000 devices and out of 43 reviews, the app has an average rating of 2.4.
9 of the reviews rated the app 5 out of 5 but 20 reviews have only given the app a rating of 1 out of 5.
This is a little disappointing but I think for a relatively new product it isn’t that surprising.
Users are complaining that the app itself repeatedly crashes or that they struggle to connect to the Smart Bridge.
The good news is that app is regularly updated and its most recent update was in the middle of February 2017.
You can install and use this app on your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
Your device must be running iOS version 8 or later.
At the time of writing (February 2017) the app has been given an average rating of 3 out of 5 by 23 people.
There is no more detailed information about the rating on the App Store.
Like the Android version, the app is regularly updated, with the last update coming in the middle of this month.
So what can you do with the app?
There is a five and a half minute video demonstrating the app, which you can watch above.
But in case you don’t want to watch the video, you can read my notes which are based on the video but I also explain the app in far more detail than it does in the video.
So, after you download the app, you need to complete a few set up steps and they are;
- Create an account
- Connect your app to the Smart Bridge (a Keen Home product) or another compatible Smart Automation Hub.
- Add a room/ Smart Vent
- Your vent will be inactive until you give the room a name and a type and then click “Done”
- Now you are ready to control your vent.
How the App Controls the Smart Vents
Before explaining anything else, with the Smart Vents, how open or closed the vent is, is described in percentages.
0% represents a vent that is totally closed and 100% represents a vent that is totally open.
There are two modes of control- manual and auto.
You can toggle between the modes with the button at the very top of your screen.
If you select “manual”, you are in total control of the Smart Vents whereas if you select “auto” you hand all the control over to the Smart Vents!
The “auto” feature is currently still in Beta…
If you select manual, the next thing to do is to select between heating, cooling or off.
In the manual mode, each vent is represented on screen by a solid circle surrounded by a ring.
In the middle of the solid circle a percentage is displayed. This shows how open the vent is at the moment.
The percentage shown by the ring surrounding the solid circle is how open the vent needs to be in order to be most efficient.
In order to alter how open the vents are, press and hold the solid circle.
A sliding scale appears – with 0 at one end and 100 at the other. Sliding your finger right opens the Smart Vent more and sliding it left closes it more.
By selecting “auto” you are handing over the control to the Smart Vents.
As in manual mode, each vent is represented by a solid circle which is surrounded by a ring.
Auto mode aims to balance the temperature throughout the whole house but the genius of auto mode is that for each room or vent you can then set an individual temperature.
To set the temperature, long press on the solid circle and once again a sliding scale appears
The scale goes from -5 to +5. The middle of the scale is 0, which is the same temperature as the rest of the house.
Sliding your finger right will make the temperature in the room warmer than the rest of the house.
Sliding your finger left will make the temperature in the room cooler than the rest of the house.
Once you have set these relative temperatures, leave the vents to sort themselves out.
The final part of the app allows you to connect your Keen Home app to the Nest Thermostat so that you can control that as well as all of your Smart Vents!
Your app also allows you to connect to a Nest thermostat
Vents can be controlled either individually or if you have more than one in a room, you can control all the vents in one room.
No matter how many vents you have, they can all be controlled by the app.
Smart Bridge- Installation and Setting Up
Before you even attempt to do this, make sure that you have downloaded the Keen Home App.
Click on the links below to down the free app.
There are a couple of things to bear in mind when you are positioning your Keen Home Smart Bridge.
Try and make sure that the front of the device is pointing with its back to the wall and pointing towards any Smart Vents you have.
This is because the antenna that broadcasts the Internet is located at the front of the unit, underneath the Keen Home logo.
Keen Home also recommend that the unit is placed at least 2 or 3 feet off the ground because this will help to keep the signal strong.
Once your Smart Bridge is in position you can follow the step by step set up instructions in the Keen Home app.
You can watch a video about the Smart Bridge here.
Does the average home need them?
Keen Home believe that the average house needs between four and eight Smart Vents
How easy are they to install?
Each Smart Vent can be installed in a few minutes- as long as you have measured your existing vents correctly.
Will they fit in my house?
With the introduction of the Trim Kits in August 2016, the probability of a Smart Vent fitting the ducts in your home has increased.
Looking in the Keen Home shop, there are 11 different sizes of Trim Kits and they are;
4″ x10″, 4″x12″ and 4″x14″
6″x10″, 6″x12″ and 6″x14″,
8″x10″, 8″x12″ and 8″x14″
10″x10″ and 12″x12″.
How are the smart vents powered?
Each Smart Vent is powered by x4 AA batteries, which will typically last for 2 years.
How do they connect to the Internet?
The Smart Vents have a built in wireless card that enable them to connect to the Internet via the Smart Bridge or another type of Smart Hub such as Smart Things.
The Smart Bridge or Smart Hub is like a router that your have for your Wi-Fi Internet at home.
Smart hubs connect smart devices to the Internet and enables them to be managed via one app.
Are they compatible with any other smart devices?
At the moment the Smart Vent, using the Keen Home app, is compatible with two smart thermostats- the Nest and Ecobee3.
However using other smart systems such as Smart Things by Samsung and Iris by Lowes, Smart Vents can be used together with dozens of other devices.