Dallas Tech Startup Chui Crowdfunds an ‘Intelligent’ Doorbell

Smart gadgets are infiltrating many parts of our lives, but two Dallas entrepreneurs are focusing on a forgotten, but key, device we all use: the doorbell.

Shaun Moore and Nazare Chafni founded 214 Technologies last year to manufacture Chui, a so-called “smart doorbell” that uses facial recognition to tell you who’s at the door.

Chui, pronounced “choo-ee,” has a database with photos of known people, allowing it to act like a virtual bouncer with an e-VIP list. When visitors ring the doorbell, a photo is captured and analyzed. Then, Chui sends an e-mail to the homeowner’s smartphone saying “Mom” or an “unknown person” is at the door.

If it’s Mom, the device can be programmed to speak a message such as “Hi, Mom. Come on in. The spare key is under the third rock to the left. Some chocolate chip cookies are on the counter for you.” For others, say, a UPS delivery person, a message can be programmed asking that a package be left by the side door or another desired drop-off point.

Moore says the device even has a “do not disturb” feature: If someone on your blacklist—an annoying neighbor or ex-partner—comes to the door, Chui will disable the ringer and no notification is sent. Two-way audio and one-way video conversations are possible as well.

Moore says in addition to answering the door remotely, the device can also be programmed to connect via Wi-Fi to other smart home devices like Lockitron to unlock doors. Connecting it to Philips Hue, for example means, “you can program it so that the foyer lights come on when someone enters the house,” he says.

Moore and Chafni have temporarily set up shop in Boulder, CO, where 214 Technologies is wrapping up a stint in the latest class of the Boomtown Accelerator there and planning for a demo day Monday. So far, the company has raised $60,000 in a Kickstarter program, more than double its $30,000 goal. The startup has orders for 311 devices priced at $199 each, with a delivery date … Next Page »

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