You’ve just settled into your seat at the movies, large bucket of popcorn and favorite soda at the ready. Then you get that scary, nagging feeling that you forgot something important! “Did I remember to turn off the stove?” you ask yourself. You can’t remember for sure. What would you do? Go home and miss the movie you already paid for, or ignore that nagging feeling and hope for the best?
In 2015, Radhika Iyer was visiting her daughter, Akshita, in Durham, North Carolina. Radhika, Akshita, and Ranjith Babu were at the movies and Radhika had that exact nagging feeling. It was so overwhelming that she convinced Ranjith and her daughter to leave the movies and drive back home.
She had left the stove on. The house was full of smoke. Fortunately it had not yet caught on fire. What if she had not listened to that nagging voice or what if Akshita and Ranjith had not been convinced to return to the house?
This near disaster prompted the invention of Inirv React. Akshita Iyer and Ranjith Babu, both graduates of Duke University, founded Inirv to design a safety system that would monitor heat, gas, smoke and motion. Although most homes have smoke detectors installed to sound an alarm if there is excessive heat or smoke, they are not designed to initiate any preventive action, and are not useful if no one is at home.
The first prototype of the React was designed by a local firm and sparked interest from some investors. However, there were design and aesthetic problems, and in the fall of 2016, Inirv connected with Enventys Partners, a firm that provides both engineering and marketing assistance to inventors. The goal was to have a suitable prototype to launch at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in early January, 2017, and to begin a Kickstarter campaign at the same time. The response was extremely positive at CES, and with an original goal of $40,000, the Kickstarter campaign ended with $175,548 pledged by 492 backers.
The Inirv React provides specialized replacement knobs that fit standard gas and electric stoves and a sensor unit that mounts on the ceiling. Both the knobs and the sensor are easy to install. If high levels of smoke or gas are detected, or if the motion sensor does not detect any motion in the kitchen for 15 minutes (signaling that no one is actually using the stove), the sensor unit signals the knobs via Bluetooth technology to turn off the burners. If you are not at home the smartphone app allows you to easily monitor your stove and provides real-time alerts if a hazard is detected or if you left the house with the stove still on. You can turn your stove off right from your phone! Perhaps one of the most important features is that the knobs can be locked through the smartphone app so that children are unable to turn on the burners.
On January 15, 2017, Ed Oswald of DigitalTrends called the React “replacement smart knobs for your ‘dumb’ stove.…” The React was listed in New Atlas’ Best Kitchen Contraptions of 2017 and 10 of the Coolest IoT Startups to Watch in 2017 (and Beyond) by Packwired. On May 3, 2017, Architecture Lab gave it the top spot in their listing of Smart Kitchen Gadgets to Enhance Your Home.
The National Fire Protection Association in its November 2017 report noted that between 2011 and 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 170,200 home fires per year that involved cooking equipment. Ranges or cooktops, with or without ovens, accounted for the majority (62%) of home cooking fire incidents. Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in these fires and fire deaths. The Inirv React represents the best use of technology—not only making life easier but also safer.