Israeli Startup Invents Device to Make Your Air Conditioner Smart

Inbal Orpaz
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Credit: Fernando Pessoa, 'The Book of Disquiet' (trans.: Richard Zenith, Penguin Classics‏)
Inbal Orpaz

Your kids are smart and your phone is smart, so why can’t your air conditioner have some smarts, too?

The Israeli startup Sensibo says it can. It has developed a device you install on your dumb old air conditioner that both connects it to the Internet and collects data from the surrounding environment. For example, you could use it to warm up a bedroom on an early winter morning before the alarm goes off, or to receive a warning that you left the air conditioning on when no one is home. It also sends the user notifications when it’s time to clean or change their filters.

Sensibo says its device, which can be used on any air conditioner with a remote control feature, could save users up to 40% of their air conditioning electricity costs.

“We saw a huge opportunity to bring smart technology to the majority of the world’s A/C systems, filling a critical gap in the market without asking users to go out and buy a whole new air conditioner,” said CEO and co-founder Omer Enbar.

The company launched a campaign yesterday on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo to raise $70,000 by July 4 to finance commercial production of the product. So far it has raised over 10% of its goal.

Those who join in the funding will be able to buy a kit for one air conditioner for $79 or for two for $139. The first products are scheduled to ship in early 2015 and will be available to the broader public a few months later priced at $159 for the first air conditioner and $79 for each additional one in the same home.

Customers can use a smart phone, tablet, computer or Pebble watch to run the app. Sensibo’s system is compatible with the vast majority of air conditioner makes around the world.

And while the device is smart, the user doesn’t have to be: The company says its interface is much easier and more intuitive than ordinary air conditioner remote controls.

Although similar solutions are in the market, Sensibo said it offers advantages that set it apart. It provides a personalized solution that remembers user preferences and learns user behavior in order to provide the correct temperature, while also saving energy. The system has a central hub connected to the Internet and individual nodes that are attached to the air conditioner units. It includes sensors for temperature, humidity, light and movement as well a receiver for the remote control. This way users can continue to use the regular remote at the same time as the smart phone application.

Sensibo uses smart 3M mounting tape allowing it to be installed in only a couple of minutes. This also ensures that Sensibo is very portable, making the system ideal for renters.

The company says there are a billion air conditioners around the world that can work with Sensibo, and all of them can be turned in to smart air conditioners.

The company was founded last year and employs four people in Tel Aviv. It raised seed capital funding from Yaniv Golan and Avichay Nissenbaum’s lool ventures, as well as from Xavier Niel’s Kima Ventures and two private investors. Its main competitor is the German startup Tado, which is also running a crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter.

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