Sears will release the second generation of the WallyHome sensor products in October, building on a technology that traces its roots to a University of Washington spinout company.
The new products will expand on WallyHome’s ability to alert homeowners to water leaks and other problems caused by changes in moisture, temperature and humidity. The second generation products can tell people when they’ve left a door or window open and includes a built-in digital speaker, battery back-up, and integration with other connected devices.
Sears Holding Corp. acquired the WallyHome technology last year from Seattle startup SNUPI Technologies, which was based on research by University of Washington professor Shwetak Patel.
The new WallyHome products include a hub and multi-sensors. Sensors track conditions in parts of the home and the hub connects sensors and enables notifications through text messages, emails, push notifications or phone calls.
Sears is taking pre-orders for a starter kit that includes a hub and one sensor for $100 and additional sensors cost $35.
We’ve reached out to WallyHome/Sears representatives for comment and update the story when we hear back.
As part of the acquisition, Sears also assumed a 10,000-square-foot lease on the University of Washington campus, where the retail and home services giant operates a tech development center. Seattle technology veteran Parag Garg, Sears Holdings’ vice president and general manager of Connected Solutions and Internet of Things, runs the office.
Sears separately opened an engineering office last year at Seattle’s Columbia Center to overhaul the technology that powers its Sears Home Services business, the nation’s largest provider of residential services including appliance installation and home improvement and repair.
Following the deal last year, SNUPI co-founder Jeremy Jaech told GeekWire the company would shift its focus to become an “IP licensing and reference design company in the near term.”
Prior to the acquisition, SNUPI had shelved the WallyHome sensors and laid off a significant portion of its staff after it was unable to raise additional venture funding.
Sears has made a big bet on smart home technology through its Connected Solutions division. Sears’ connected products include devices to control and adjust temperature and lighting, as well as smart appliances like refrigerators, washers and dryers.
“As the authority in millions of American homes for decades and products across all categories, including appliances, fitness, auto, electronics and home, Sears is uniquely positioned to lead the Connected Home market,” Garg told GeekWire last year.