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SNUPI Technologies prepares for launch of in-home hazard sensors

SNUPI Technologies

SNUPI Technologies -

Jeremy Jaech, CEO of SNUPI Technologies, and his co-founders raised $7.5 million to commercialize their home sensor device, Wally.

Photo by Joyce Shangkuan

SNUPI Technologies

SNUPI Technologies

SNUPI Technologies has developed a new product that will be able to detect leaks, pipe freezes, and mold outbreaks in homes before they happen.

After raising $7.5 million for the commercialization of the product, SNUPI Technologies’ WallyHome will hit the market for the first time Feb. 15 at a Seattle home show. This will kick off a nationwide tour of home shows selling the “Wally,” as it was affectionately dubbed by its creators.

“Wally brand is all about protecting the health of your home,” said VP of Marketing Jacquelyn Jaech. “And one of the cool things about SNUPI technology is that it’s different than WiFi.”

The SNUPI, or Sensor Network Utilizing Powerline Infrastructure, technology is in many ways the first of its kind. It first began approximately 6 years ago when its creator, Shwetak Patel, now an associate professor of computer science and engineering and electrical engineering at the UW, developed it as a graduate student at Georgia Institute of Technology. When he came to UW, Patel connected with another associate professor in the same department, Matt Reynolds, and Ph.D. candidate Gabe Cohn, to continue developing the technology. With the help of entrepreneur and UW Regent Jeremy Jaech, the four co-founded SNUPI Technologies in 2012, patented the intellectual property, and shortly afterward, Wally was born.

“We’re basically creating our own network — this SNUPI network — out of the walls of your home, so now we have greater range than you would in WiFi,” Jacquelyn Jaech said. “Anywhere you have wiring in your home you have your network with the SNUPI network.”

It relies on the copper wiring within a household to relay messages from the six sensors placed around the home to the hub, which is connected directly to a router within the home. This bypasses WiFi or Bluetooth connections, and grants the user access from any device that can connect to the Internet.

When Wally detects heightened humidity, temperature, or any amount of water, it is able to send text messages and email notifications to the user or a list of secondary sources.

“Here’s this way of using this technology to solve an everyday consumer problem,” Jacquelyn Jaech said.

According to Jacquelyn Jaech, there were $11 billion in claims paid out in 2011 for damage due to water, freezing, and mold; 80 percent of those damage-causing incidents were preventable. It’s no surprise then, that WallyHome has sparked interest in insurance companies as well.

Jacquelyn Jaech used the analogy of the modern car to describe the necessity of a product like Wally in the home.

“Your car has all these things now that tell you exactly what to do and when to do it, your dashboard tells you everything about how to take care of your car,” said Jacquelyn Jaech. “But there’s nothing for your home and your home is your largest investment. Now this idea of having a connected home is really a possibility.”

The starter kit, which includes a hub, six sensors, and a free notification system, currently goes for $299, and is available online for pre-order now before it becomes available at retail outlets in 2015. The sensors, which do not run on batteries, will last at least 10 years without regular maintenance.

“Cars turn over a lot faster,” added Jeremy Jaech. “Homes turn over quite slowly. It’s a retro-fit market which is why it’s important to have these ultra-low-power sensors, because you can’t tear up your walls and run wires — you need to be able to put them where you need them and have them work.”

Reach reporter Holly Thorpe at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @HollyiThorpe

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