Sense From Silk Labs
Written by Lucy Black   
Monday, 22 February 2016

Sense is a device that sets out to be the eyes, ears, and brain of your modern household. The first product from Silk Labs, it is available for pre-order on Kickstarter and has already exceeded its $100,000 funding goal.


Silk Labs is the new venture founded by Andreas Gal, formerly the CTO of Mozilla. We reported his leaving Mozilla back in June 2015 when he announced: 

"I am departing Mozilla to create a new venture in the Internet of Things space, an open field that presents many of the types of challenges and opportunities that drive our passion for the Web."

Gal had been with Mozilla for almost 7 years and his big contribution was Boot to Gecko, which went on to become Firefox OS so it's not surprising that Silk is a software platform designed to be extensible by developers. 

Silk Labs, which has Brendan Eich on its board, is currently a13-person team and Sense is its inaugural product. Perhaps surprisingly, as Silk Labs already has backing of $2.5 million plus additional funding, Sense was launched as a Kickstarter project with the relatively modest goal of $100,000 to take it from concept to market. That target has already been exceeded with all 400 of the $225 pledges snapped up in less than 3 days. These were in two two batches of 200 - with and without the free Silk SDK. You can still obtain one of the Early Bird models by making a pledge of $249 and those with the SDK are proving more popular than those without.

Sense is essentially a box containing a wide-angle camera, infrared sensor, accelerometer, microphone and a status light. As this video shows it is designed to connect with other smart-home products, like Sonos speakers, Nest thermostats, or Philips smart bulbs.



Given that it has a camera and a microphone users interact with Sense using voice and gestures. However, its goal is to do more than act as a hub to control devices with a single app. Instead Sense is capable of detecting the difference between people and animals and of distinguishing different people. Silk Labs wants Sense to learn about its users and adapt to their needs using machine learning designed to recognize patterns.



Unlike other home control solutions which are cloud based services, Sense runs applications locally on the device itself, providing for privacy and security. Another feature is that Silk has been designed to be extensible and will have the tools to be used by developers to create apps that run on Sense to make users home more intelligent and personal.

As the promo on Kickstarter puts it:

Silk is built by the same team that created Firefox OS, so we know how to build great platforms for developers. We understand the importance of simple tools and APIs that give power to developers without compromising user privacy. We know how to foster an ecosystem of developers, and we are excited to do this again with Silk (and Sense) for the home.

It goes on:

If you know JavaScript then you already know how to write Silk apps. That's because Silk is built on Node.js, and yes, your favorite JavaScript tools and npm modules will work just fine. 

Let's hope that Silk Labs has the element of entrepreneurial flair that is required to make this new platform a success. It is a bit disappointing that the first devices won't ship until December. The IoT spaces needs good products but it needs them now and not in 10 months time.




More Information

Sense Kickstarter Page

Silk Labs

Related Articles

Andreas Gal Leaving Mozilla 

Who Is Programming The Smart Home?



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Last Updated ( Monday, 22 February 2016 )