'DoorBot' for Homeowners Hits $250,000 Goal

Jeremy Hsu, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
'DoorBot' for Homeowners Hits $250,000 Goal
The DoorBot allows homeowners to answer the door without ever getting up from the couch or even away from home.

Homeowners can soon answer the door and even unlock it for visitors simply by checking their smartphone or tablet. A "DoorBot" designed for answering the door remotely has successfully hit its $250,000 funding goal on a new crowd-funding website.

The $189 DoorBot invention, from the company Edison Junior, allows people to see and communicate with visitors without being at home — a feature that has attracted $282,000 in funding so far. A special $339 bundle that includes a separate "Lockitron" device, from the company Apigy, adds the ability to remotely unlock the door and share virtual keys with friends and family through a downloadable DoorBot app for smartphones and tablets.

"Mechanically, Lockitron is a very simple device in that it just turns the lock, but its brains are actually pretty powerful in that it can communicate locally with your phone as well as over the Web," said Cameron Robertson, a co-founder of Apigy.

The announcement of DoorBot's funding success on Christie Street — a new rival of Kickstarter focused on hardware — came today (Jan. 24). But Robertson previously spoke with TechNewsDaily during the Consumer Electronics Showcase in Las Vegas in January.

Lockitron and DoorBot offer homeowners a new level of control over access to their home from their mobile devices, Robertson explained. Landlords can issue virtual keys to tenants. A homeowner at work could remotely unlock the door after talking with the deliveryman outside, or simply take his or her  smartphone on a jog and leave the keys at home.

Both DoorBot and Lockitron also avoided the usual crowd-funding websites such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo. When Kickstarter turned down Lockitron's proposal as a "home improvement" project, Robertson and his Apigy co-founder, Paul Gerhardt, decided to go it alone. Apigy ended up raising more than $2 million for Lockitron through its own website. [40 Most Innovative Kickstarter Projects]

But Robertson does not recommend that other entrepreneurs follow his example. Instead, he praises Christie Street as a crowd-funding website built by inventors that can provide technical and business expertise to help any projects it decides to host.

The new website uses both in-house and outside expertise to provide much stricter screening criteria and accountability for hardware projects. It also holds presale funding as a third party and doles out certain amounts of money based only on the progress that inventors show on their projects — a way of ensuring that customers who order in advance don't get burned by a product that fails to come out.

"Christie Street looks at if you have a product, have the ability to produce that product, and have a thought-out plan," Robertson told TechNewsDaily.

By comparison, Kickstarter's hands-off approach on projects has allowed "a few bad apples" to burn through hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors without any results, Robertson said.

Of the three projects launched so far on Christie Street, DoorBot is the first successfully funded one. DoorBot's makers at Edison Junior have even thrown in a special warranty of sorts: If someone steals the DoorBot, they'll replace the device for free.

This story was provided by TechNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience. You can follow TechNewsDaily Senior Writer Jeremy Hsu on Twitter @jeremyhsu. Follow TechNewsDaily on Twitter @TechNewsDaily. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

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