Belkin’s new joint venture with a Finnish plumbing supplier will aim to save homeowners money and conserve water using smart-home technologies.
Consumer-electronics giant Belkin International is creating a $40 million joint-venture company with Finnish plumbing supplier Uponor and plans to establish its research and development office in Seattle.
The new company, Phyn, will be majority owned by Belkin. Its goal is to use sensors and machine learning to monitor and automate water usage in homes, and to detect when leaks may occur.
Phyn is headquartered in Los Angeles but will set up a Seattle office this summer with help from University of Washington associate professor Shwetak Patel. Belkin acquired Patel’s startup Zensi in 2010.
Zensi is focused on energy-monitoring technology, and its work is the basis for Belkin’s WeMo line of smart-home automation products and the establishment of WeMo Labs in Seattle. WeMo will become part of Phyn and serve as its base technology.
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“Water is a precious and vital natural resource, but there has been a fundamental lack of technology dedicated to protecting and preserving it — especially for home users,” Chet Pipkin, founder and CEO of Belkin, said in a statement. “With the creation of Phyn, we’re bringing water up to speed with the rest of the smart home, helping not only to protect consumers’ homes and wallets, but also do our part to solve the very real challenges facing our global water supply.”
Belkin will own 62.5 percent of Phyn. Uponor contributed $15 million for a 37.5 percent stake.