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Stylish home hub maker Silk Labs shuts down its Kickstarter-funded hardware

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If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, the bedroom, and the bathroom

Silk Labs, the makers of a stylish home hub that received more than $150,000 on Kickstarter earlier this year, has announced that it's giving up the hardware game before it even gets started. The company says it is no longer going to build its Sense hub as a physical product, but will instead focus on integrating its software with other commercial manufacturers. All Kickstarter backers of the Sense hub will be refunded "immediately," says the company.

Since sense launched we've seen more home hub products

It's a shame, as when Sense launched back in February, the hardware stood out as well-designed and stylish. But since then, the home hub sector has only become more competitive: Amazon introduced the Echo Dot and Tap in March; we've begun to see Alexa show up in some pretty good third-party products; and last month Google unveiled its own house hub, named Home. In this sort of crowded marketplace, the chances of success for a little-known startup aren't great, especially when Silk Labs only attracted 774 backers during crowdfunding. (That's not bad, but not great either.)

Good design wasn't the company's only strength though, and Silk Labs' decision to focus on software is given some credence by its worthy ambition to make home automation more intelligent. For example, incorporating features like facial recognition software into connected cameras will mean users get notifications not just about movement in their house, but about whether the person moving is a stranger or a member of their family. As of this week, the company is also open-sourcing its software to encourage third-party developers. So Silk has a chance to survive — if it is, indeed, smart.