Kickstarting a Home-Automated Future: Interview with Chris Chuter of Peeple

Chris ChuterChuter is Co-Founder of Building 10 Technologies. After working in the soul-crushing game industry for years, Chris and his partner David won a hackathon with Chris’ idea for a Wi-Fi-enabled door peephole camera, Peeple was born. A few prototypes and a successful SXSW exhibit later, they enlisted the aid of camera hardware hitman Craig Sullender to help bring Peeple to market.

What do you get when you cross the front door of your home with today’s top technologies? A simple way to turn your home into a smarter home.

Peeple is a product designed by Chris Chuter, Co-Founder of Building 10 Technologies, which recently exceeded its funding goal on Kickstarter. Peeple is the world’s first “caller ID system” for your front door. You place a disc-like device over your peephole, or if you don’t have a peephole you place on your door’s glass trim. It connects to your smartphone through an app and when someone knocks or opens your door, you get a notification with live video and photographs of who’s there.

Chris designed Peeple out of necessity to keep his family safe. “I invented Peeple after my young son wandered out the front door without us knowing. He was brought back to us safe, but I realized that our front door was a blind spot.”

Peeple

Since great minds think alike, we caught up with Chris to get his take on the state of home automation.

Here’s what Chris had to say…

What benefits does home automation provide for the average consumer?

Home automation that solves real problems will become natural and almost invisible. This is what the average consumer wants, but it has to be done right with this mindset of solving actual problems. Products that do this will survive this current ‘Wild West of Home Automation’ that we’re currently in and make it into the average consumer’s home.

The benefits we receive will be similar to the benefits we’ve received with other technological advancements. Freedom, more information, peace of mind, safety, and higher quality of life. Think about advancements with automobiles, seat belts, radios, power windows, air bags, etc. It’s very analogous to home automation. There will be home automation services and products that our children will take for granted, but because we are in the midst of the home automation revolution, it’s sometimes hard to discern discrete benefits.

Why do you think consumers have been slow to adopt new home automation technologies?

I have a Nest and a Lockitron. Two of the innovators in the DIY home automation field. For my Nest, I had to turn off a breaker, take a picture of the wiring, email that to Nest, and finally install my Nest–which I did incorrectly. My Lockitron sits idle on my front door because it lost all of its credibility when it told me my door was closed when it was in fact open.

This is a big reason consumers have been reluctant. There is a credibility gap and too much friction to install some of these devices. If an average consumer has to touch a wire, they are going to be reluctant to buy the product. And, if they do get past the installation and it doesn’t fulfill its promise it hurts all of us — the developers of home automation products.

Given the technologies that exist today, what do you see the home of the future looking like? How soon is that future?

We need to take baby steps. When consumers see images of the smart home that does everything with the wave of a hand, they are naturally skeptical. The home of the future will have smart devices that add value and increase a person’s quality of life.

I believe in the hierarchy of needs. Technologies that provide solutions to our needs will be in our future soonest. At the bottom of this hierarchy are the most important needs; physiological, safety, love. These translate well to home automation. Physiologically, we need food and air to survive, and technological solutions in the home that provide for these needs are already being developed–Drop, Nest, the Helix, etc.

Safety translates to security and shelter in the home. With the DIY security movement taking off, technological advances will be in the home sooner than they could be provided by the entrenched providers of security devices. Finally, love translates the best to quality of life. We already see the effects of home automation with things like DVRs and streaming services increasing our love for our homes and our families.

The future is bright and happening now.

How do you anticipate Peeple being part of that future?

Peeple is caller ID for your front door. Remember a while back when you would actually hear busy signals on phone calls. You might even remember dialing *69 to find out who called you. Now, would you buy a phone today that didn’t have caller ID? Of course not. Why do we tolerate that with our homes? If you’re not home you have no idea if someone comes by. Just like your phone, sometimes you don’t want to answer the door. You can then use Peeple to screen your visitors, just like you do on the phone.

With Peeple you’ll have caller ID for your home. You essentially will have a doorbell in your pocket. In fact, you might find that you don’t need a doorbell anymore.

A home in the future with Peeple will have a log of every visitor, every open and closing of that door. If that’s valuable to you, consider supporting us.

What would you say to someone who is on the fence about Peeple?

If you have a door and a smartphone, there is always a situation in which Peeple could enhance your life.

  • You’ll be able to prove that the package was delivered.
  • You have a record of the burglar who broke into your house or scoped out your house a month ago.
  • You’ll know when a small child has left the house.
  • You’ll know when your high schooler arrives home before or after curfew.
  • You’ll have peace of mind knowing your daughter has one of these on her dorm door.

You might say, “No one comes to my house,” but without Peeple, how would you know?

Peeple has already exceeded its $50,000 fundraising goal on Kickstarter, but the campaign remains live and is still accepting backers until June 26, 2015.

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