For lots of us, buying a new smartphone means selling our old one for pennies on the dollar. San Jose-based start-up Wise Labs, LLC thinks it has a better way with Bemo, a clever device designed to repurpose old smartphones into shiny new smart thermostats. Just install Bemo where your old thermostat used to be, download the free app to your old Android, iOS, or Windows device, then mount it in place on the wall.
Wise Labs is seeking its capital on Kickstarter, where backers can pre-order Bemo for $130 (about £80 in the UK, or just under AU$150 in Australia). A limited number of early-bird discounts are currently available, but even at full price, you’ll be spending considerably less than you would for a dedicated smart thermostat like the , the , or the .
As an alternative, you can pre-order Bemo with an Android device included for $250 (about £155, or roughly AU$285). That price puts it right on par with existing competitors like Nest.
From the touchscreen to the built-in Wi-Fi, Bemo is designed to leverage your old smart phone’s hardware into a smart thermostat experience that’s both new and familiar. With Bemo’s app, Wise Labs is promising the same sorts of features we’ve come to expect from today’s top smart thermostats — things like advanced scheduling, and geofenced HVAC automations that turn the heat off when you leave for work.
Along with those you’ll find some new twists, too, like the ability to stream music or call 911 in an emergency. Wise Labs is also opening Bemo’s software to outside developers, leaving the door open for even more creative applications of your existing phone tech.
Bemo is designed for the kinds of 24V HVAC systems found in the US, though the team at Wise Labs says they’re working on a version for the 240V systems found in the UK, too. Compatibility beyond those two regions remains to be seen, though Wise Labs is offering to ship Bemo to international buyers, with units expected to arrive by August 2015.
With HomeKit software built into iOS 8 and Google building its smart-home vision around the Nest, the intersection of smartphone and thermostat seems like a natural crossroad for the connected home. That’s right where Bemo sits, which seems like awfully smart positioning to me. We’ll be sure to keep our eye on it in the coming year.