GE is getting quirkier. On Wednesday, the technology and media giant announced that it is expanding its partnership with New York City-based startup Quirky to co-develop and launch 30 new connected, app-enabled home products over the next five years.
Launched in 2009, Quirky accepts product ideas from the public, utilizing a global community of over 600,000 inventors, and lets the public vote on other people’s ideas. An in-house design and engineering team works on turning the ideas into products, and then revenue is shared with the idea creator. Products developed through Quirky are available through Home Depot, Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target and Amazon.
Quirky also has a platform, WINK, which utilizes a mobile app so that consumers can communicate with connected devices. The new GE/Quirky partnership will co-brand connected home products, expanding on a previously existing partnership that released four new products earlier this month.
Minority Equity Stake
In addition, GE is taking a minority equity stake in Quirky for $30 million plus in-kind services, as part of a Series D financing round that also includes investors Andreessen Horowitz, Norwest Venture Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The connected devices field, which is projected to become a $25 billion market, is a key driver here for GE, which will not only support the WINK platform but will develop some premium countertop appliances based on Quirky ideas.
Quirky founder and CEO Ben Kaufman said in a statement that, in six months of working together, the two companies “have created a $45 million connected consumer business.” The ultimate vision, Kaufman said, is “to make the WINK platform the consumer standard adopted by all manufacturers of connected home products.”
WINK-enabled products can be controlled by the Android or iOS app, and both companies said the platform will be open to any manufacturer of connected devices. App-enabled connected devices for the home have been enabled for home monitoring, home health, security, appliances and lighting.
The first four WINK-enabled products already released are Nimbus, Egg Minder, Pivot Power Genius and Spotter, all of which are now on sale at Home Depot and Best Buy, as well as on Quirky’s web site.
Egg Tray, Power Strip
Egg Minder is an egg tray that communicates with your app and lets you know how many eggs you have and when they’re going bad. Pivot Power Genius is a power strip that bends to fit every sized plug and adapter without letting any outlets go unused, and two outlets can be controlled from a mobile device for making sure devices are turned on or off.
Nimbus provides a personalized, four-dial dashboard that can be personalized from a mobile device to display traffic, email, weather or other sources, and Spotter allows motion, sound, light, temperature and humidity to be monitored remotely from a mobile device.
GE SVP and chief marketing officer Beth Comstock told news media that her company has been “impressed by how Quirky opens and speeds invention and making,” and added that the partnership is “opening up our brand to more ideas and new audiences.”
Another GE/Quirky project: the Inspiration Platform. Coming in May of next year, it is designed “to return patents to their intended purpose,” according to the companies. It will make selected, searchable patents -- beginning with some seeded by GE -- available to be licensed by the Quirky inventor community for the development of new products.