Canadian startup aims to connect everything with style

Canadian startup aims to connect everything with style

Technology News |
By Julien Happich

Of course there are many motes, beacons and sensor nodes on offer out there, so what’s the novelty in adding yet another pack of motion, light, temperature and humidity sensors to the market place? We asked Ubiqweus’ co-founders Sean Stephens and James Daigle.

“Let me tell you how it all started”, said Stephens. “Sitting in an office, there were people complaining about how cold their side of the office was, whilst others were saying they were too warm on the other side, and there was never any consensus reached nor any easy way to monitor the actual temperature across the building. We could have painstakingly logged the temperature the old way, with pen and paper and a thermometer, but we wanted something more immediate and easy to share”.

“When we looked around for a solution, we found that the least expensive solutions were little boards like the Raspberry Pi, but you had to hack it in order to make it work your way, there were no easy consumer product able to do this. Any readily integrated industrial solution would cost over US$500 to have a hub and a few sensors and still, it took the most of a day to set up and make it work” Stephens told eeNews Europe.

“We were looking for a very simple sensor that anyone could use without requiring skills or a computer degree. So we decided to simplify it to the maximum and make one sensor per device, with each device connected independently”, said Stephens, adding that instead of enticing consumers to buy new connected devices, with hubs and satellites, they could now directly connect whatever existing items in their household, cheaply.

Once commercialized, the co-founders expect the qBiq sensors to retail for about CA$59, just over US$40. The Kickstarter campaign promises even more competitive pricing at CA$40 for early birds.

“Just scan the QRcode on the cube, and you get to the device’s website address, with a user interface that displays data the way you want” he said, other graphics on the cube unambiguously indicate its functionality.

One of the reasons to use Wi-Fi is so that the sensors connect directly to the local Wi-Fi network, so users can monitor things without having to be in the room or without requiring a dedicated hub like it is usually the case for Bluetooth-enabled solutions, we were told.

The most striking feature of the qBiq sensors is that they are attractively designed, for sensors, that is. “They feature a high quality aluminium enclosure, they are rugged and they are not intended to land in a landfill” insisted the co-founders.

“Our engineers also spent a lot of time on the battery design, we have integrated a 500mA rechargeable battery that can last as long as 6 months depending on the use case. It recharges through a microUSB port. All this should keep us from landing into the landfill”.

“These devices can be put anywhere, they are aesthetically pleasing, and when you see them, you know immediately what they are for. What we strive for is that if you buy it, you are not going to throw it away. We want to be the Apple of the IoT world.” concluded Stephens on the design front.

“The cubic form factor, one inch by one inch by one inch, means contractors don’t need to know more detailed specifications. There is still plenty of room on the board to add different types of sensors, and we open source plans for 3D printers to print holding brackets” added Daigle, although each qBiq sensor integrates a small magnet for an easy fit to most steel-clad appliances.

With appropriate permissions, the data is also accessible through open source technology to allow developers to build mobile apps for new use cases.

The company only starts with a few basic sensors for temperature, humidity, light intensity and motion monitoring, but if all goes according to plans, it has on its roadmap many other sensor variants, including shock, tilt, proximity, chemical sensing.

“There are lots of sensors out there that are not easy for consumers to use or configure, but we have to see first what sort of sensors they want. We need to probe the market before investing in more R&D”, Daigle said, expecting the Kickstarter campaign to provide valuable feedback.

Visit Ubiqweus at


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