Skip to Content

Internet-Connected Battery Could Bring Smoke Alarms Online

Roost’s batteries will let smoke alarms send alerts via smartphone, and may bring other battery-powered devices online, too.
October 24, 2014

A startup has come up with a simple way to make smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors more useful: a nine-volt battery with built-in Wi-Fi. The battery can alert you on your smartphone if the alarm goes off or the battery itself is about to die.

Roost plans to start selling a battery that connects smoke detectors to the Internet next year. A rendering of Roost’s app, which will offer alerts if the alarm goes off, shows how users will set up the battery.

Roost, the Sunnyvale, California-based company behind the battery, plans to sell the batteries starting next year for $25 to $35.

“We were approaching the Internet-of-things space not from a perspective of ‘How can we build a whizzy new device that does something?’ but ‘What information do you have in the house that’s useful to you that you’d like access to when you’re not home?’ ” says cofounder and chief technology officer James Blackwell.

The idea could reach beyond alarms. Roost has its sights set on other devices, battery-powered and not, that are currently excluded from the growing throng of connected gadgets.

Roost’s first batteries, which are lithium-based and meant to last for more than five years, contain a Wi-Fi chip and sensors for audio detection and voltage monitoring. To get one working with a smoke alarm, you’d set it up with a forthcoming Roost smartphone app. Using the app, you can give a battery a name (like “living room” or “kids’ bedroom”), and connect it to your home Wi-Fi, and then insert it in the battery compartment of the alarm.

Right now, Roost has a working prototype in a plastic box about the size of an external hard drive; Blackwell expects a battery-sized version to be ready in the spring.

Roost plans to go beyond the nine-volt battery in the future—Blackwell says the company is thinking about AA batteries, since they’re commonly used in toys and remote controls. He’s also thinking about adding other sensors, such as an accelerometer or thermometer, to the battery.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.