I’ve written here before about my Fake TV, one of my favorite device purchases from last year. It’s a simple, compact box covered with multicolor LED lights that emulates the effect of a television illuminating a dark room. The idea is to deter prospective burglars by giving the impression that someone is at home.
That same concept is at the heart of Kevin, a new device being funded through this just-launched Kickstarter campaign. Taking its name from Macaulay Culkin’s character in the immortal “Home Alone,” Kevin is what you might call a “smart fake TV.” That means it’s a wifi enabled, internet of things-y, fancy schmancy design object with richer, more varied, and more intelligent light emulation routines than my Fake TV. It also takes the illusion even further by including a variety of ersatz audio—there are sounds that give would-be intruders the impression that the family is home, having dinner, rooting for a favorite team during a big game, enjoying a movie, or even exercising strenuously. Everything can be controlled through Kevin’s mobile app (which looks copiously illustrated in the de rigeur tech aesthetic I wrote about a few weeks ago). This video demonstrates Kevin in action:
The basic technology at the heart of Kevin—programmable LEDs and playback of prerecorded sounds—is straightforward enough that it seems like a relatively low-risk Kickstarter gamble. Its network capabilities also suggest that buying several of them would make for a pretty convincing solution for an entire home; you can imagine programming three or four of them to simulate a fully active household. Kevin also sports a much, much more attractive industrial design than the hideous Fake TV; it looks as good as any Sonos or smart speaker, at least in the press photos. But, at about US$200 each, Kevin is also roughly many times as expensive as a Fake TV. If that doesn’t discourage you, you can back the campaign at kickstarter.com.+