Through the glass doors of the conference rooms in eHub, one can see students drawing intricate pictures on white boards and projecting their project plans onto the television screens. In the last six months since the opening of eHub, students have used the space to launch their launch their mere ideas into real products. One student using eHub for this exact purpose is Zheng Fu ('17).
Zheng Fu thought of the idea for HomeBit while sitting in his apartment on a hot, Ithaca summer day. After using his thermostat to adjust the air conditioning in his house, he found that he was still either too hot or too cold. It was in this everyday inconvenience that Fu saw an opportunity for HomeBit: a smart home positioning system that works on behalf of users to sense their patterns and presence in order to maximize home efficiency.
HomeBit will perform a versatile set of tasks, ranging from simple functions such as turning on lights when someone enters a room to more complex tasks, like regulating room temperature based on where people are located in the room. For instance, if someone was sitting in the corner of a room near a heater, HomeBit would take their location into account while measuring the temperature of the room. Fu recognizes that the market for smart home gadgets is not untapped, and points out that machine-learning and indoor positioning aspect of HomeBit will set it apart. These functions are just the beginning of the HomeBit team’s plan for their product.
Still in the early phases, the HomeBit group is working towards hardware improvements, a comprehensive prototype, and recruiting additional, likeminded people for their start-up. However, one thing the HomeBit team does not have to worry about is finding a space to meet, because eHub works for them as a home base and as an incubator for their entrepreneurial endeavors. Instead of trekking down to Fu's apartment in the Commons, the HomeBit team is able to use eHub in its convenient Collegetown location. "Having a dedicated space with all the functionality of a collaborative workplace at our fingertips has been crucial to our success so far." said Fu, noting the importance of the space to this team’s progress. Issues like interference and signal blocking are roadblocks the team has experienced so far; however, at their weekly meetings at eHub, the group of four has been able to identify and discuss solutions to these problems.
The idea behind HomeBit is that it will "Make your Home a Bit smarter." For Fu, the everyday issue of dealing with summer heat turned into an idea, and that idea turned into a startup. With a place to meet, room to work, and functional space to project thoughts and ideas, the startup has been given the momentum it needed and, more importantly, a home.