What excites you the most regarding the future of SmashToast?

23/07/2018

What excites you the most regarding the future of SmashToast?

Barnabas Helmy, CEO of SmashToast: “After three years. When I first started this company, I was told that “smart home” and “IoT” were the buzzwords, believe it or not. And I was told you wanna try and “ride the wave”. And I was like, I am. This is happening. This is going to be a big thing.”

Read the rest of Mr. Helmy’s interview with Retail Bound on SmashToast and its flagship product, PUCK, by clicking here: Hardware to Retail: Interview with SmashToast

9/07/2018

Do you know the story of how PUCK was invented? Hear it from SmashToast’s very own CEO and Founder, Barnabas Helmy:
 
“Well, I was sitting on the sofa watching TV with my two year old daughter and she was chewing on the Apple TV remote. When I went to change the channel, it no longer worked. This was the 2nd remote that she had chewed on and destroyed.”
 
This incident was only a few short years ago. That is when Mr. Helmy retreated to his basement workshop where he tinkered, experimented and then, eventually he came up with the idea for the PUCK – now being sold all over the world!
 

PUCK – The Affordable Smart Home

18/06/2018

PUCK – The Affordable Smart Home

With PUCK, you too can enjoy the smart home experience without spending thousands of dollars to automate. We’ve made the smart home affordable, easy, and fun! Expand your digital footprint while simplifying your life and tossing your remotes. Get yours today at PUCK!

 

PUCK – Internal Components!

8/06/2018

PUCK – Internal Components!

Hardware

So what does this amazing hardware innovation help bring you?!

  • No line of sight – Hide all your audio/visual equipment behind closed cabinet doors.  You can control your components from up to 150 feet away.
  • No wires – PUCK uses BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), so there are no wires or cables.
  • Self powered – PUCK lasts for up to 3 years on a single coin cell battery!  No power cords and no need to recharge.
  • Zones for different rooms – PUCK uses proximity sensing, so each PUCK knows how close it is to another and creates “Zones” for component groups.
  • No limit on number of components – Attach a PUCK to each of your A/V components. There is no maximum number.*

Save time and frustration with PUCK

4/06/2018

Save time and frustration with PUCK

Save your loved ones time and frustration by helping them -PUCK it – and toss the remote in 3 easy steps.

1 ) Attach PUCK on or near a device that uses an Infrared remote!

2) Download and pair with the free PUCK Remote App for iOS and Android!

3) Toss your remotes!

https://vimeo.com/192684384

PUCK knows how to control more than 220,000 other devices

30/04/2018

PUCK knows how to control more than 220,000 other devices

PUCK knows how to control more than 220,000 other devices, and it can learn new infrared codes for devices it hasn’t already met. One PUCK can control multiple devices, allowing users to “toss those remotes.” Get yours today by visiting www.getpuck.com! 

19/04/2018

SmashToast’s PUCK works with a variety of devices including a television, space heater and Apple TV.

PUCK is different from our competitors because it is a wireless solution to connect traditional infrared-remote controlled devices to the smartphone.

We focused on simplicity over confusing features, and our modest price point gives our customers a low-cost solution to enter into the smart home revolution! www.getpuck.com

Microsoft pledges $5B Internet of Things investment over 4 years

9/04/2018

Microsoft pledges $5B Internet of Things investment over 4 years

Microsoft said Wednesday it plans to invest $5 billion in the complicated-but-exciting world of Internet of Things over the next four years.

In a blog post, Corporate Vice President of Azure Julia White didn’t go into detail about how the $5 billion will be spent or the kinds of products that could come out of it. She wrote that Microsoft’s IoT platform today spans its cloud, OS and devices areas, and this investment will allow businesses of all sizes and levels of technical expertise to build connected devices and programs.

“Our goal is to give every customer the ability to transform their businesses, and the world at large, with connected solutions,” White writes.

The idea of the Internet of Things has been around for years, but advances in cloud computing have helped make the technology more of a reality. Microsoft has embedded its technology into several Internet of Things devices in recent years, most recently a smart thermostat from Johnson Controls powered by the digital assistant Cortana.

 

Study finds renters value smart home tech above traditional amenities

PUCK by SmashToast. Control your home with your smartphone.
5/04/2018

Study finds renters value smart home tech above traditional amenities

The company surveyed more than 1,000 residents and reached some surprising conclusions as to the adoption of smart home tech by renters. The survey revealed that the most important smart home services to renters are security cameras, including doorbell cameras and ceiling-mounted surveillance cameras, keyless entry with special codes for guests, smart thermostats, and a security system. The other strong desire that emerged from the study found that one of residents’ top amenities would be an electronic payment system, rendering the need to write the monthly rent check irrelevant.

Interestingly, the survey found that residents aren’t bound by smart home brand loyalty. Unlike more established devices like cellphones or laptops, smart home brands haven’t yet established themselves as the gold standard in the rental market. 33 percent of respondents registered “no preference” when it comes to smart home devices; 16 percent are happy with Google Home, 12 percent to Amazon Echo, and just 11 percent to Apple’s troubled new HomePod.

“It’s really about the different technologies and the platform all being able to talk to each other,” said Alan Missen of property management company FirstService Residential recently of the branding challenges. “One of the challenges in the industry is that there are not a lot of standards. New technology comes out and there’s seven ways of doing it.”

“While pools and other creative community features have often been seen as the draw for prospective residents, the survey shows that what residents really value upon move-in, and are willing to pay for, are technology add-ons and amenities.” said Chase Harrington, president and chief operating officer of Entrata. “Shifting the focus of development, marketing, and training efforts to these technologies is going to be key for apartments as residents begin to demand living in a smart, connected environment.”

According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, 35 percent of the U.S. population of 112 million individuals rent versus buying a home. Historically, these people tend to live in urban areas and the demographics trend younger in age, making them the sweet spot for marketing smart home tech.

The top smart home features residents said they would pay a premium for include a basic technology package including high-speed Internet, online rent payments, secure access, smart home features such as keyless entry, and an automated maintenance request system. More than half of residents (57 percent) indicated they are willing to increase their rent payment by at least $20 per month to get the high-tech apartment they desire, and about one in four were willing to chip more than $30 per month.

Competing services include Vivint’s Smart Properties, which lets property managers design their own smart home systems, and Castle Lanterra Properties’ System Galaxy, which lets property managers remotely limit access to buildings and amenities, 24/7. PointCentral, a subsidiary of Alarm.com, also provides residential property managers with a smart home platform help increase property awareness and reduce energy costs.

 

https://www.digitaltrends.com/home/entrata-smart-home-renter-survey/

A tale of pluck – Barnabas Helmy’s electronic Puck

27/03/2018

A tale of pluck – Barnabas Helmy’s electronic Puck

BY PATRICK YEAGLE

Like many inventions, Barnabas Helmy’s PUCK began with a problem.

Helmy’s daughter, two years old at the time, ruined the remote control for their home’s Apple TV by chewing on it.

“They’re expensive, and it’s not even that functional of a remote,” Helmy said, sharing a story he has told dozens of times over the past three years.

Helmy recalls that when the bedroom TV remote broke, too, he decided to come up with his own solution. The result is PUCK, a small device which allows smartphone control of any TV, speaker or other machine which accepts an infrared signal. PUCK connects to a user’s smartphone via Bluetooth Low Energy technology, using an Android or iPhone app to translate commands into infrared messages other devices can understand.

So far, PUCK knows how to control more than 220,000 other devices, and it can learn new infrared codes for devices it hasn’t already met. One PUCK can control multiple devices, allowing users to, as Helmy is fond of saying, “toss those remotes.”

Rob Patino, a Springfield patent attorney and friend of Helmy, says that when Helmy showed him the concept for PUCK, he knew it could be “disruptive” to the existing marketplace.

“I think that really encouraged him and motivated him to pursue the concept,” Patino said, adding that he believed so strongly in the idea that he’s one of the investors.

Development of PUCK began in 2014, but Helmy’s path to today started much earlier. His interest in electronics began as a young man, when he would tinker with guitar peddles and eventually learn to build his own.

“It was a lot cheaper than buying them,” Helmy said with a laugh. “They’re easy to do once you figure it out.”

Helmy originally studied electrical engineering in college, but he ultimately graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in oil painting. Despite the vast difference between those two fields, Helmy says having an understanding of the relationship between form and function laid the foundation for his current endeavor.

“I’ve found that it has given me kind of an edge on other engineers because I have really strong design principles,” he said.

Helmy built the first PUCK prototype over the course of one month in early 2014. In the three years that followed, he met again and again with engineers and designers to refine the prototype.

Kevin Lust, director of the Small Business Development Center at Lincoln Land Community College, says his group met with Helmy several times to help develop a marketable business plan.
“Even at that point, there was still a lot to be done,” Lust said. “To Barnabas’ credit, he’s done it.”

Lust says the “prime directive” for groups like his is to avoid being a gatekeeper. In the case of PUCK, Lust knew Helmy would have to compete in a market filled with products which may not be the same, but which are similar enough to be confusing.

“We try not to pass judgement on ideas,” Lust said, “but we do try to be upfront and frank about the obstacles.”

With business plan in hand, Helmy visited Silicon Valley for a month, pitching PUCK three times a day to venture capitalists. All told, Helmy’s company, Smashtoast, Inc., raised about $500,000 in funding.

“It’s taken this long just to get to market because of the amount of capital it takes to make something on a mass scale,” he said.

In 2015, Smashtoast was awarded a $50,000 Arch Grant from the St. Louis-based Arch Grants Global Startup Competition, providing both capital and free legal and accounting services. Patino

says the Arch Grant was instrumental to Helmy’s success.

“It really gave him a second wind when he needed it the most,” Patino said.

Patino notes that the lag between concept and execution is one of the biggest challenges for a startup.

“Sometimes realities don’t play well with your expectations,” he said.

PUCK is manufactured at CCK Automations, an electronic circuit board maker in Jacksonville. Helmy says one benefit of keeping production local is better protection of his intellectual property.

While overseas manufacturers may offer cheaper production runs, some have been accused of stealing designs to build competing products using the very same factories.

In January, Helmy attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a major yearly industry convention at which electronics companies typically unveil upcoming products.

“We thought we were going to get lost in the fray, because there’s so much amazing stuff out there,” Helmy said. “But it was really validating for us, because everyone was coming to our booth and saying, ‘We can sell this. Everything else is a couple of years away, but this is something that works now.’ It was really exciting, and it really put us on the map.”

The CES trip led to calls from Walmart and several other retailers, and Helmy’s company reached an agreement with Walmart to sell the device in a few test markets.

“From March 27, they wanted it in stores in Miami, Dallas and Chicago – with a new display and new packaging – by Father’s Day,” he said. “From selling single packages online to this was pretty insane, but we did it.”

Helmy hopes to see PUCK sold in Springfield and across the country as early as Black Friday.

If he had to start over, Helmy says Springfield would still be his base of operations. The low cost of living has helped keep development costs low, he says, and the Internet has made it possible to work with developers and engineers anywhere. Helmy hopes that other Springfield-area entrepreneurs are emboldened by his success.

“You just have to take a risk and figure it out,” he said. “Once it’s figured out, hopefully other people will use that same channel.”

Lust says that while Springfield isn’t known as a tech hub – he only half-jokingly adds the qualifier “yet” – Helmy’s success so far serves as proof of what’s possible.

“He’s a terrific example of how you can draw on resources from all over the world, no matter where you are,” Lust said. “There’s absolutely the possibility that things can be done in Springfield.”

Lust says a major factor in Helmy’s progress has been his attitude and adaptability.

“Demeanor plays a big role in a business’ success,” Lust said. “Barnabas’demeanor throughout the whole process has been, ‘Okay, here’s a problem; How do we fix it?’ I know that translates well to investors.”

Patino adds that Springfield as a community could encourage other projects like Helmy’s by supporting “business incubators” like Innovate Springfield and by creating “investment angel” groups.

“I’m really hopeful that will do a lot to help promote and give resources to people who are like-minded,” Patino said. “Money is always a major issue for these startups.”

Looking back on his journey and armed with new knowledge and experiences, Helmy says he could develop another product in a fraction of the time.

In fact, he’s already working on his next big idea.

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