Wondrwall to start shipping its ‘brains for homes’ in April


Emma Gordon

With around £11m of orders already secured, Manchester-based Wondrwall expects to start shipping its smart home technology — the culmination of four years’ development — at the start of next month.

The company says its system which “gives homes a brain” can save consumers up to 30% on their energy bills by learning their routines: when they wake up, go to sleep; what rooms they use; when they leave the house and come home. It then automatically controls heating and lighting to suit, without needing instruction. It can also, the company says, protect users from break-ins.

At the core of the system is the light switch, which uses 13 sensors to monitor motion, temperature, humidity, light, and power.

This information is fed back to the cloud, learned, and acted upon.

And because each switch is equipped with Amazon’s Alexa technology, consumers can over-ride settings using voice control, and can also use it as they would an Echo device, including playing music, asking questions and buying from the Amazon site.

Using microphones in the switches, Wondrwall can alert users when it “hears” sounds like a smoke alarm going off, or windows being broken.

For example, the company says if a window’s smashed, the burglar alarm will sound, and all the homes’ internal and external lights will flash: deterring burglars from even entering the property.

Wondrwall’s chief executive and founder, Daniel Burton, said: “[We noticed] the smart home sector was so disjointed.

“People had done bits and pieces: smart speakers, heating, lighting, security. What Wondrwall does is parcel it all together…. It’s full home automation for a similar cost of an alarm system.”

Wondrwall’s intelligent switches are made in Poland by Flex

Built by intelligent product manufacturer Flex in Poland, the base kit for homes includes one light switch, one alarm siren, a thermostat and two key fobs. These are fitted with GPS and also act as a panic button, alerting linked contacts when pressed.

Consumers will need to buy extra light switches for full home coverage, with those in a three-bedroom home likely to pay around £1,300.

Burton, who owns 98% of the company, doesn’t want to say how much the firm has invested in product development over the past four years, but does explain the venture has been largely privately funded thanks, in part, to the sale of technology from an earlier business venture, Organic Electronics Innovation.

Wondrwall also secured £2m debt financing from NatWest in 2016.

The technology has already attracted the attention of major homebuilders and property developers such as Kier Group, Keepmoat Homes, Allied London and Redrow, and has been incorporated into around 180 showhomes.

It can also be retrospectively fitted, with consumers buying the kit online, then using the firm’s website to find a locally-approved electrician for installation.

The launch next month means, Burton says, a conservative estimate will see the system installed in 12,000 homes across Europe by year-end, including in the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, and Scandinavia.

And it doesn’t end there.

Burton says he expects to build a “multi-billion pound” business over the next few years taking into account the whole Wondrwall Group which includes divisions focused on technology, assisted living, insurance and, ultimately, utility supply.

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