A new start-up called Electric Imp promises to turn almost any product into a connected device with the addition of a tiny card in a slot.
Former iPhone engineering manager Hugo Fiennes, former Gmail designer Kevin Fox and long-time firmware engineer Peter Hartley co-founded the start-up, which is intended to help users monitor, control and get alerted by their devices.
Electric Imp founders Peter Hartley, Hugo Fiennes and Kevin Fox
Some potential applications are a laundry machine that texts a user when the wash is done or a power charger that turns on when the price of electricity goes down.
The premise is that hardware makers are not great at making cloud services, so they can just add an Imp slot and let Imp take care of the Web interface.
Each Imp card will contain Wi-Fi and an embedded processor. You could think of it as a souped-up version of an Eye-Fi card, which uploads pictures wirelessly when used in a camera’s memory slot. Or think of it like “The Matrix,” where the computer downloads the software needed to control itself once it connects to the Internet.*
Founded last summer, Electric Imp plans to release a developer preview bundle in June and the first compatible devices later this year.
Though it surely would have played well on Kickstarter — like, for instance, the Twine smart sensor project — Electric Imp went a more traditional route for funding, taking $7.9 million in Series A money from Redpoint Ventures and Lowercase Capital.
*Hat tip to Redpoint principal Tomasz Tunguz for the “Matrix” analogy. By the way, this is the first publicly disclosed venture investment for Tunguz, who was formerly a product manager at Google.