What happens when a Fortune 500-ranked, 120-year-old company like GE partners with a four-year-old startup like Quirky? Today, six months after announcing a partnership, the companies launched their first co-branded products.
They're designed to bring a little bit of gee-whiz connectivity to mundane household objects, from your egg tray to your power strip. Each gadget is Wi-Fi enabled, and they run on an iOS and Android app called Wink -- designed in-house by Quirky's growing team of developers. This is the company's first piece of software, and it's just a hint of what's to come, according to CEO Ben Kaufman, who presented the products last week. These fun little gadgets run the gamut from gimmicky to truly useful -- in other words, it's Quirky sticking its toe into the Internet of Things.
It also gives me a chance to broach an interesting question about the connected home: Is there such a thing as too connected? As Wi-Fi connectivity makes its way into the nooks and crannies of our lives, will there come a point when we decide we don't actually need a push notification when we're running low on toothpaste? Or are ubiquitously-connected objects simply a sign of things to come -- a future where all objects have a voice?
It's something to ponder -- in the meantime, check out the co-branded project below.
This palm-sized device works as an all-around sensor: light, sound, motion and temperature, all in one device. Like Twine and other programmable sensors before it, it's designed to let you choose what to track. But unlike those, it attempts to make said tracking a bit easier.
This is the most versatile -- and maybe the most intriguing -- of the five new products, simply because what you do with it is totally up to you. While every other device drills down into a specific purpose, this one hints at a more flexible network of connected objects. [$US50]
The Egg Minder
The Egg Minder keeps track of the freshness of 14 eggs and sends you a text if you're almost out. With Wi-Fi connectivity and two AA batteries, it's a lot of tech to keep in your fridge -- but if you're really that forgetful, why the hell not? [$US70]
Pivot Power Genius
Pivot Power is one of Quirky's original smash successes -- and the "genius" revamp is actually pretty brilliant. The original product is a pivoting power strip that lets you fully utilise each socket. The new one lets you turn the sockets on and off remotely. That means you could, say, turn your a/c on a few minutes before you get home. Or double-check your iron is off. [$US80]
Nimbus is quad-clock dashboard aimed, in the words of Quirky's reps, at "early adopters." It allows you to choose the inputs on each of its four faces, to slurp data from sources as disparate as Facebook, to the weather, to the actual time. [$US130]
Porkfolio, har har, was designed by a dad who wanted to create a more interactive piggy bank for his kid. Maybe not quite as pertinent to daily life, but certainly giftable. [$US70]
According to Quirky, these are just the first of a handful of products coming down the pipeline -- check out the GE + Quirky page for more.