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The average car has more than 400 embedded sensors, the average smartphone has about eight, while homes only have about four.  That’s where WunderBar comes in.    The WunderBar, which resembles a Willy Wonka chocolate bar and looks almost good enough to eat, has sensors that snap off like a chocolate bar square and can attach to pretty much anything, enabling app developers to turn things into smart things.

The Wunderbar, which launches on crowd funding site Dragon Innovations today, was developed by German/American startup Relayr, part of Startup Bootcamp Amsterdam (conveniently located near Texas Instruments and Philips).  The company looked closely at why the “Internet of Things” was having trouble taking off and realized that there was a gap between app developers and hardware developers.

The company says that while device manufacturers are coming out with their own devices, like Nest and Philips Hue, they aren’t opening up their API’s fully, leaving out the people that really create innovative ways to connect these devices: app developers.  WunderBar bridges the gap between software and hardware because it allows app developers to do what they do best: create cool and interesting apps.

“The app developers don’t care about hardware, they just want to develop like they do on their smartphones,” said Jackson Bond, co-founder of Relayr.  “That’s where Wunderbar comes in–this is hardware that you really don’t have to think about, you just place somewhere and its programmable immediately out of the box.”

WunderBar comes with a Relayr base, or”mother module,” along with a set of six detachable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connected sensors that can be monitored and controlled from your iPhone, Android smartphone and web apps.

The six pre-set sensors that come on the WunderBar are:

  • light/color/proximity
  • gyroscope/accelerator
  • thermometer/humidity
  • ground moisture
  • motion
  • “public” sensor (do what you want)

Out of the box, WunderBar gives you a couple of demo apps to play with so that app developers can get familiar with connecting their smartphone to the sensors and creating mashups.  The company’s video shows some creative examples including a poop sensor, which tells you when your baby’s diaper needs to be changed.   Overall, the possibilities seems endless.

Relayr is also utilizing the cloud to add a level of security to the WunderBar.  The company said that its cloud platform gathers sensor data so that it can be accessed and programmed even while your app is unavailable.

“When data comes into the cloud, we perform some authentication on it to make sure that the information is coming from a device which we trust; that all gets stored into a big data bank and is then accessible to the app developer through an API,” said Paul Hopton, Chief Engineer.  “They can also register for notifications and configure the device–the whole idea is that if things only connect to your phone and your phone’s off, or you’re no where near the sensor, that it won’t work – so this is why we route everything through to the internet.”

So far the response from app developers has been positive.  The company said it’s already getting feedback from developers that want even more sensors, so Relayr is considering possibly offering an “add-on” pack of sensors down the road.  Relayr has also received interest from a number of companies, including Chinese Telecom maker Huawei.  In the future, the company also plans to integrate other device’s API’s to allow app developers to work with those as well.

“At the moment if you’re an app developer and you want to make something that works with a Philips Hue or Nest, there’s another API.  You have all these different interfaces to work with and it becomes complicated so we want to harmonize that in a single environment platform, and so the Wunderbar is an introduction to that platform as well,” Bond said.

Sounds like this is just the beginning and definitely a company to watch in 2014.


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