Canary Shatters Its Indiegogo Funding Goal For Its Smart, Dead-Simple Home Monitors

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There are some 90 million homes in the U.S. without any security system whatsoever. Many of them are renters who don’t want to invest heavily in a place they don’t own, among hundreds of thousands of home owners who are simply priced out. There has never been a convenient, all-in-one system that could offer home security at an affordable rate, much less one you could pick up at the local Best Buy.

But that all changes with Canary, the latest crowd-funding sensation to hit Indiegogo. We caught up with NYC-based founder Adam Sager to discuss the project.

Canary is a little console, slightly smaller than the size of a paper towel roll, that’s packed with a host of sensors, a mic, and an HD camera.

For $200 down, this little guy will connect to the Wifi, sync with your phone, and constantly watch your home. I say watch, and not monitor, because Canary can only see as far as its sensors will allow, whereas most home security systems are wired in to monitor every crack and crevice of a home. Canary can only hear as far as the mic allows, or the camera sees, or the sensors can sense.

However, Sager believes that when you place the Canary in the central part of your home, near the front door perhaps or watching over the living room, that a real threat, like a burglar, will likely set off the Canary no matter where it enters from.

Plus, if you have a larger space or want added security, you can always link more than one Canary (up to four, Sager tells me).

Canary’s sensors include night vision, motion detection, temperature, air quality and humidity, along with a live feed to the HD camera at any given time. The phone will instantly alert the user whenever the home experiences a random change, like a temperature fluctuation or sudden movement.

But Canary is also smart enough to learn your home, sensing the difference between a burglary and a pet. It even understands when regularly scheduled events occur, like the arrival of a nanny or a dog walker at the same time each day, so that you don’t have a panic attack each time Rover needs to take a wizz.

Canary’s distribution model is different from any other home security system in that you will eventually be able to go pick one up at a local electronics store on the cheap. This has never really been available before, and the potential market is huge with 90 million homes completely unprotected and priced out of the alternatives.

Sager admits that margins on the hardware itself won’t be that high, but the plan is to offer value-added services like monitoring (delivered by a TBD third-party) for $10/month.

Canary has been on Indiegogo for four days, and has blown far beyond its $100k goal to be at $550k at the time of writing. It only took a few hours to reach $100k, according to Sager.

If you’d like to back the project, head on over to the Canary website or check out the Indiegogo campaign.

Twitter’s Mobile Apps Begin to Look a Bit More Like Instagram

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Continuing its trudge toward becoming a more media-centric service, Twitter on Tuesday announced a new version of its iOS and Android mobile applications, giving more prominence to photos and video in the stream.

Instead of needing to click through to see an attached photo in your Twitter timeline, now users will see previews of pictures and videos captured with Vine within the stream as they thumb through it.

It’s a simple yet logical move for the microblogging service, which until now has primarily been relied upon for text-based updates in real-time. With the rise of Instagram over the past few years, users have flocked to more visual platforms, preferring to thumb through images and videos.

The move comes as Twitter aims to broaden its appeal to users, only weeks before the company makes its public debut on the New York Stock Exchange. While practically ingrained into the mainstream media consciousness, Twitter’s user growth rate has slowed year over year; the company is home to around 230 million monthly active users, far short of Facebook’s billion-plus member network.

Not to mention the obvious appeal to advertisers, which will receive more prominent billing in the Twitter feed when including pictures and Vine videos within their tweets. (Digiday’s take on this is good.)

Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram did not help matters for Twitter. The microblogging network was in fierce competition with Facebook to acquire Instagram just a few years ago, but lost out to a last-minute billion-dollar offer directly from CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

As a result, Instagram later rescinded the ability to preview its photos from within the Twitter stream, requiring users to click an extra link in order to reach the Instagram shots. Not only was it annoying for users, it was a blow to Twitter, which lost a great deal of rich visual content.

Shortly after Twitter received the heads-up late last year that Instagram would cut off its integration, the company scrambled to figure out a solution to bringing filters into the Twitter app itself, according to sources familiar with the matter. To do that, Twitter contracted the services of Aviary, an outside company responsible for much of Twitter’s photo filter product.

Twitter certainly learned from the whole situation. What you won’t see are previews of photos uploaded from nonTwitter products; only photos uploaded via Twitter’s apps and services will show up in preview form. Same goes for Vine videos (but not for YouTube videos). No word on whether that will change in the future.

Expect the download to roll out for Android and iPhones on Tuesday.

A First Look At Younity, The App That Lets You Access All Your Files All The Time

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I went on a vacation to Iceland earlier this year, and took a ton of photos – it’s a beautiful country, and the light there is really unique. But to date, I haven’t showed them off to anyone. That’s because my Iceland photos are on my home computer’s hard drive, and I’ve been too busy (or lazy) to upload them all to the web. So when friends and family ask, “How was Iceland?” my response is, “Amazing. Someday I’ll get around to uploading those damn pictures.”

But a new app called Younity could make situations like that a thing of the past. Younity, which is in the current class of Los Angeles-based startup accelerator MuckerLab, purportedly creates a “personal cloud” for the files shared on all of your various devices to let you access them anytime, anywhere.

I met Younity co-founder Erik Caso while we were in L.A. visiting MuckerLab earlier this month, and his pitch was quite interesting – from the looks of it, I’d be able to access those Iceland photos that are on my home computer from my phone in a snap (that is, if I had an iPhone.) Essentially, it makes the experience of the cloud come to you, rather than the other way around.

It’s still the early days for the Younity app, but it looks promising, and it’ll be exciting to see how it develops in the months ahead. Check out our brief interview with Caso and introduction to Younity in the video above.

Ask A VC: Lightspeed Ventures’ Bipul Sinha On How The Enterprise Sales Model Has Changed

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On this week’s Ask a VC show, Lightspeed Ventures’ Partner Bipul Sinha joined us in the studio to field reader questions and talk about enterprise investing.

Sinha, who has led investments in Nutanix and PernixData among others, talked about how the enterprise sales model has changed over time. Sinha has an interesting view on this topic, considering he advises startups now on how to structure their sales operations and has an insider experience on how incumbent sales worked while at Oracle.

Sinha also discussed what the most interesting niche is within the software defined datacenter space. Tune in above for more!

Get Ready For TechCrunch TV’s Tour Of The New Hollywood, Starting Next Week

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Over the last several years, we’ve seen a new group of digital media companies emerge in Los Angeles, driven by the growth of YouTube as a platform for distribution of video content. What started out as a cottage industry built around YouTube is becoming a pretty massive business, with L.A. at the center of it all.

Companies like Machinima, Maker Studios, and Fullscreen were founded with the idea of helping creators to expand their audiences by improving their production value, collaborating with other YouTubers, and adopting a series of best practices.

That said, not all YouTube networks are created equal: While some focus on providing creators with tools for high-quality production, others have developed technical tools to help them succeed. Some are focused on specific verticals, like gaming or food, while others are built around aggregating channels with massive audiences and growing them through collaborations.

TechCrunch TV spent several days in L.A. meeting with a number of digital media companies, including Machinima, Fullscreen, Tastemade, ZEFR, Big Frame, Maker Studios, and Funny or Die. During those visits we met with executives and creators, toured production facilities, and got to know the people building this whole new ecosystem of video content. We also visited YouTube Space L.A., a huge facility filled with equipment for shooting, editing, and other post-production activities that is free and open to YouTube creators.

On Mondays and Wednesdays over the next four weeks, we’ll be rolling out a series of videos showing off all the best from our meetings at those companies, giving you a better feel for what each has to offer and what creators can expect when they sign up for a multichannel network.

Gillmor Gang: Christmas in July

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The Gillmor Gang – Robert Scoble, Kevin Marks, Keith Teare, and Steve Gillmor – celebrate Google’s gift to StreamTV. ChromeCast is cheap, small, simple, and extensible, just in time to kickoff the run up to Apple’s big move to the Big Screen. It’s a win-win for everybody involved, except maybe Microsoft and its XBox offering. Suddenly 3 screens and the cloud has shrunk to 2, or maybe 1.

It’s no cakewalk for Google, who must navigate and resolve desktop and mobile OSes and native hardware only seen briefly held to the ear of Eric Schmidt. But Chromecast altering the landscape, making the new Nexus 7 into a peripheral controller for the TV rather than the other way around, will shake up Hollywood’s world view just as Netflix is reprogramming our kids’ attention from channels to apps.

@stevegillmor, @scobleizer, @kevinmarks, @kteare

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

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CrunchWeek: Google Chromecast, Apple’s No-Growth Q3, And Earnings Madness

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Welcome to a brand new episode of CrunchWeek, the show that brings a few of us writers together in front of the TechCrunch TV cameras to dish on some of the more interesting stories from the past seven days.

In this week’s episode, Greg Kumparak, Ryan Lawler and I talked about Apple’s no-growth Q3 (and recent DevCenter hack), Facebook’s mobile growth and financials from its earnings reports, and Google’s new $35 streaming device, Chromecast.

Tune in above for more!