Homey is a voice-activated home automation hub created by Netherlands-based startup Athom. Athom recently launched Homey on Kickstarter with a €100,000 (roughly $136,000, £81,350, or AU$146,700) goal. There are 27 days left on the campaign and the project has already surpassed its funding expectations (last I checked, it had raised almost €116,000 -- about $158,200, £94,350, or AU$170,000 -- from over 560 backers).
Not only is that a sign that smart home stuff is alive and well in crowdsourcing-land, it also shows that folks are interested in seeing something a bit different. Where classic hubs like Revolv simply have an app and a bunch of wireless radios, Homey adds voice control. Yes, Homey still comes with an Android and iOS app and it can still communicate with a bunch of differently-configured gadgets at once via Raspberry Pi-enabled Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, ZigBee, Z-Wave, 433.92 MHz, nRF24l01+, and infrared, but you can also talk to it.
It's multi-lingual, too. So far, Homey understands English, Dutch, Spanish, and French (with plans to expand based on the success of the Kickstarter campaign). Plus, Homey is already compatible with a bunch of app-enabled smart home products and expects to add more over time.
Homey isn't the first home automation hub that responds to voice commands, though. CastleOS has been around since late 2012, but its central hub and Kinect voice control app can only operate on a Windows computer. HouseLogix's VoicePod is another such voice-activated hub. We've also seen similar functionality show up on single products, like the Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat with Voice Control, but we weren't particularly impressed with its limited range of commands.
While there's a fine line between true convenience and novelty with voice control, I'm still curious to see what Homey can do and its many backers seem to agree. When the Kickstarter campaign first launched, you had to pledge at least €179 (about $244, £145, AU$263) to get a Homey unit of your very own. That contribution level sold out fast, so you have to spend at least €229 (about $312, £186, AU$336) to reserve one now. With the funding goal already met, Athom expects to be able to ship Homey to backers in the first half of 2015.