Blink, a wire-free HD camera, for home monitoring and security

Kickstarter is the incubator for the Internet of Things, I don’t think it’s even arguable any more, it’s just a fact of life. So a new wireless camera coming to the platform shouldn’t be much of a big deal. But the Blink—a new camera system for home monitoring—could well be a leading indicator of something different, silicon designers bringing their next chip to market in a new way.

Immedia Semiconductor, a Boston based startup, is a relatively small player in the silicon industry and specialises in video and imaging processing chips intended for connected camera applications, and up until now they haven’t been a consumer facing company.

The Blink—a wire-free HD home monitoring and alert system
The Blink—a wire-free HD home monitoring and alert system

The Blink is an interesting product. Like many Internet of Things systems—Philips Hue, SmartThings, and others—the Blink has a central hub which sits on your home network and talks to the devices it’s managing. In this case it’s cameras, and this is where things get interesting.

Most ‘wireless’ cameras are anything but, while they might be sitting on your WiFi network meaning that you don’t have to string Ethernet cable to remote locations around your home—almost inevitably the places where you want to put a camera are going to be remote and hard to access—you still have to run power. The Blink cameras are really wire-free and battery powered, and should remain so for up to a year if Immedia’s claims are to be believed. That’s pretty impressive, especially considering what the cameras capabilities, and that seems to be down to Immedia’s silicon.

I spoke to Don Shulsinger—Immedia’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing—about their Kickstarter project, and the silicon behind it, just after the launch of the project on the crowdfunding site last week.

An interview with Don Shulsinger about the Blink

Immedia isn’t the first silicon company to take their chip to Kickstater—that was Adapteva and their Parallella board which successfully funded back in late 2012 and finally shipped almost a year late in May this year—and while two projects might not make a trend, I won’t be surprised to see other fab-less developers coming to Kickstarter.

It costs a huge amount of money to bring new silicon to market at scale, and because of that the product cycle can long—far longer than you’d expect. As a result a new way to fund development in an industry that’s traditionally been beholden to big venture capital might shake things up, again far more than you’d expect. Because anything that reduces the time-to-product for new silicon could radically accelerate the already shortening consumer product lifecycles, which could cause some interesting disruption.

With more than a month still to run, the Blink has blown past its initial funding goals and looks likely to be another million dollar Kickstarter.

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Alasdair Allan is a scientist, author, hacker and tinkerer, who is spending a lot of his time thinking about the Internet of Things. In the past he has mesh networked the Moscone Center, caused a U.S. Senate hearing, and contributed to the detection of what was—at the time—the most distant object yet discovered.

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