Have your Homey read you your emails in the morning

Talking to yourself is usually frowned upon, but soon this might not look quite so strange as you could be talking to your house instead.

The growing Internet of Things (IoT) lets smart products talk to each other, but the Homey also allows you to talk to it – and it can talk back.

You can tell the oven to pre-heat itself, instruct the blinds to close and many more options to make your life easier and much more like the TV cartoon the Jetsons.

In return, the Homey will tell you when you should take an umbrella out and even read you your emails in the morning (if you are that way inclined).

This means it can connect with a range of existing services including Gmail, Spotify, AirPlay and products from Bose, Samsung, Philips and more.

It works by utilising eight different wireless radio modules, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC, and communicates with them by voice control or by using a smartphone.

The creators are also making an app store so you get apps made by companies with compatible products.


If successful, the Homey could help to create the smarthomes of tomorrow.

The need for the ever-increasing number of smart products to be able to talk to each other – and not be tied to one brand – is a crucial hurdle that needs to be crossed for us to have intelligent homes that can work for us.

The product recently popped up on crowdfunding website Kickstarter and is trying to raise €100,000 to help with development.

Its funding pages says: “Whether you’re a businessman, student, grandparent or housewife, Homey is there for you when you need it.

“We want to get technology out of the way so you can focus on what matters most to you, and Homey takes care of the rest.”

The Homey isn’t the first device to be looking to allow you to have a conversation with your house (either verbally or through the IoT) and it faces stiff competition.

Strong rumours have emerged that Apple will announce its plans to enter the home automation market next week at its developer conference.

If Apple does enter the market it could quickly create a near-monopoly due to the number of iPhones and iPads sold in recent years.

The company’s plans were first revealed in a patent from 2012 that connects internet or Wi-Fi products in the home.

Images courtesy of Homey

Startups 100: Factor picks its favourites

On Friday, the 2014 UK Startups 100 list was announced; a curated collection of the 100 best new start-up businesses in the UK.

From environmental innovations and gourmet food to luxury shopping and craft beer, the list covers start-ups in pretty much every field. It shows how technology is bringing new approaches to old industries, and creating whole new solutions to modern life.

Here we profile some of our favourites from the winning 100.

bio-bean (96)

bio-bean is an eco-friendly start-up that was founded in January 2013 by Arthur Kay and Benjamin Harrison. The company collects used coffee grounds from a network of wholesalers and coffee shops based across London, and converts it into a biofuel using a unique, patent-protected method. Expect to be hearing a lot more from these guys as time goes on.

Reviveaphone (84)

Launched in 2012 by 21 year old Oliver Murphy, Reviveaphone is a DIY kit to rescue your phone if it gets damaged by water. The product is set to find its way into stores shortly, having been successfully funded through the BBC’s investment entertainment programme Dragon’s Den.

Enclothed (82)

Founded in October 2012 by Dana Zingher and Levi Young, Enclothed is an online personal stylist service targeted squarely at men. After creating a profile with the company, Enclothed send you three outfits that they think you’ll like. You try them on and send back anything you don’t want, avoiding the hassle of late night shopping or, horror of horrors, a shopping centre dash on a Saturday.


Dubbed “cloud storage for your physical things”, LOVESPACE provides storage on a box-by-box basis, avoiding the need to rent a complete unit and the potential of Storage Wars-esque hell. Instead you book online and your items are picked up for free and stored in a climate-controlled space with heavy security. Once you want your stuff back, all you’ll need to do is log on and let the company know, and they’ll return it to you. Founded by Brent Akker, the man behind Streetcar, Europe’s largest car-sharing club, the company has seen major growth since its launch in August 2012.

BeerBods (65)

Matt Lane, founder of BeerBods, is on a mission to get the people of the UK “drinking better beer, with an online beer club that combines a subscription service with an online community providing info about the chosen brew. Every 12 weeks a new pack of 12 arrives, and everyone who’s signed up to BeerBods drinks on per week and compares notes online. Not sure we’d manage that level of restraint! The company holds the record for the most successful campaign ever on equity funding site Crowdcube.

Steer (50)

Coding is a really useful skill, but it takes ages to learn, right? Not any more, thanks to Steer, which was founded in December 2012 to teach people valuable coding skills in only 5 days. Founder Amelia Humfress got the idea when teaching herself to code, and the result is a training centre that believes learning to code is simple. Most of Steer’s courses are on HTML, CSS and Javascript, although user experience, data visualisation and Ruby on Rails are also covered.


Internet of things-based start-up EVRYTHNG is on a mission to give inanimate object internet connectivity. The company lets retailers create profiles for their products, which users can then view in real-time to get up-to-date information about their offline object. The potential applications for this are practically endless.