13 February 2012
ROUND ROCK, Texas–Over the years, we've seen a noticeable trend of hardware guys driving into software when they can. Why? The margins are better.
But what about software guys going into hardware? Counterintuitive to be sure, or at least uncommon. Microsoft did it with XBox, to be sure, but they had the scale to make it happen.
What happens when you don't have that scale, but you have a great idea? Welcome to Treehouse Labs.
Treehouse got its start, not 20 feet up in the air, but with its feet firmly grounded in mobile-apps. They were good at it, scoring a number of highly popular apps, like I Dig It and PocketDyno.
But the founders, IBM vet John Howard and Rusty Kennard, saw potential in the "internet of things." And of course, the rapid expansion and cost-reduction of 801.15.4 (Zigbee) solutions. They've kept their startup InMotion Software and expanded their horizons into this space with Treehouse Labs.
We plugged Treehouse Labs' coordinates into the Volt's GPS and headed off last week to meet with Rich Cutler, the company's chief technologist. We ended up in a gas station in a residential neighborhood. After a panicked phone call, though, we found their offices, right behind the gas station in a small building that houses a karate class. (Treehouse is growing rapidly and will soon move into new quarters).
Our timing couldn't have been better. The company had its coming out at CES 2012, and the day we arrived, it was making available to consumers its BiKN technology platform in conjunction with NXP Semiconductors. The idea behind it is to essentially leverage mobile devices as the "gateway" for the internet of things and to create products that ensure you never lose your keys, dog, cat, kids and so forth.
Cutler, a Freescale veteran, walks us through the announcement and the technology: