Jesse Howard's innovations

How smart devices could communicate more honestly.


1. Toggle the transmission of data

Jesse's devices have big red toggles. Pull it down to stop the device from sending data to the Candle Controller.

Expressive switches

You can even disable the sending of data remotely, for example from your phone or with a voice command. The big red toggle will automatically move to the correct position to indicate it's no longer sending data.

This allows you to always figure out if the device is currently transmitting data, even when looking at it from across the room.

2. From cloud-first to edge-first

Candle devices are designed to be 'edge first', not 'cloud first'. This means they focus on being useful as stand-alone devices, for example by always showing some useful data on their screens. 

If you connect them to the network you gain features. For example, the candle controller can keep track of your data over time and create graphs. But it's not required.

This is very different from a lot of smart home devices that work the other way around. They become useless if they lose their connection or if the company that made them goes bankrupt.

3. Pop the hood

The white covers on Jesse's devices are attached with magnets only, and can be easily removed.

With Candle you are encouraged to open up and learn about your device.

It allows you to inspect the electronics. A recent scandal revealed that Google Nest devices contained a hidden microphone. With Candle, there are no such surprises.

4. Generate fake data

W‌e believe smart devices should be able to tell little white lies once in a while. That's why under the hood of this CO2 sensor there's a hidden button to enable or disable 'fake data mode'.

When activated, the sensor will pretend the CO2 levels are stable. If, for example, you bring over a cute date, the CO2 levels may rise. By using fake data mode you can be assured your parents will be none the wiser.

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5. Disconnect the microphone

Most voice controlled devices on the market do not allow you to disconnect the microphone. With Candle, the microphone is a separate USB device that you plug in to the main controller. This has a lot of advantages:

  • Trust: unplug it to have complete peace of mind.
  • Longevity: you can upgrade to a better microphone.
  • Aesthetics: you can hide the bulk of the device in a closet, and only leave the microphone outside of it to pick up your voice.

The research and work of product designer Jesse Howard was made possible through generous support from the Creative Industries Fund NL.