William Simonin (Woolf, 2014), Vincent Leroy (Woolf, 2014) and Pierre-Alain Simon (Woolf, 2014) who all studied in the School of Computing, have long been interested in robotics and devices, and decided to start their own engineering company, Vivoka, in 2015, along with their friend Geoffrey Heckmann. Based in France, the team’s current project, ‘Lola’, aims to offer a home automation system with artificial intelligence features, which uses voice recognition and 3D mapping control.
As a box plugged into a home network, ‘Lola’ will be controlled via a smartphone or tablet, and will enable users to control every connected device in their home. ‘We realised that a lot of automated solutions for the home already existed, but none of them linked everything together’ explains Pierre-Alain. ‘We decided we wanted to create our own product which achieved just that, so we worked hard and are finally starting to see the fruits of our labour’.
Having received support from numerous partners, such as Synergie Lorraine and Fibaro Home Intelligence, Vivoka launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign on 1 December 2015 to get project ‘Lola’ off the ground. ‘Having finalised our research and development phase with a considerable degree of secrecy, it’s time to go public’ says William. ‘We have 45 days to prove our product is worth it, 45 days during which we will do all we can to get our project out there and convince Kickstarter backers’.
With a target of 100,000 euros, the team hopes the Kickstarter will not only draw backers to the project, but that it will also create a community of ‘Lola’ fans, and attract the attention of journalists and influent bloggers in the field of home automation, to spread the word about their project and acquire the funding necessary to see it become a reality. ‘Raising such a large amount of money for a French project is a huge challenge; it’s been done less than ten times before, but we believe in our product and are willing to bet on our success’ says Pierre-Alain.