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This might be the most stylish smart home hub yet

This might be the most stylish smart home hub yet

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Most smart home hubs are ugly. In fact, most products with the word "hub" in their name are probably ugly. Even the word "hub" sounds pretty ugly. So it's a really nice change of pace to see what the team behind a new startup called Silk Labs has created: an extremely stylish smart home hub that doesn't look like any other tech product out there.

Created by former members of the Firefox OS team

Sense is a new smart home hub that's being launched today on Kickstarter. It has a wooden base that holds up what's basically a sloping monolith — a curved black something or other with no obvious function beyond looking cool. And it definitely does.

Silk Labs was apparently born out of the team that created Firefox OS and is led by someone who previously served as chief technical officer for Mozilla. The team wants to turn Sense into a platform for the smart home, allowing anyone to make apps for it that can speak with a variety of home products and connect them all in intelligent ways.

The big question about Sense is how well it'll actually fare as a smart home hub. Silk Labs says that it can connect with Philips Hue and Lifx lights, as well as the Nest thermostat and Sonos' sound system. Beyond that? It's not totally clear. It doesn't appear to be part of any open or proprietary home standard — it just uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to connect to products that are willing to work with anything else. That could ultimately be quite limiting, but it's possible that Silk Labs envisions turning this hub into what's essentially an at-home version of IFTTT, letting you string together multiple products that wouldn't otherwise be connected.

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Image credit: Silk Labs.

Being local is a big part of Silk Labs' pitch. It's positioning Sense as the safe and secure option for the smart home. But again, it's an unfinished product so it's not clear exactly how well it meets that goal. It'll be a fairly important aspect for Silk Labs to get right — Sense lives in your house and is supposed to be aware of when you're home and away. It has a camera, too, so it can identify specific people when they enter a room. That'll allow for more personalized automation, but it also means even more data that needs to be kept private.

Sense is available through Silk Labs' Kickstarter campaign for $249. It intends to have the devices shipping by December, but its code will open up to developers before then so that third party integrations can be ready to go when the hubs finally arrive.