Caavo, the CE startup co-founded by the late Blake Krikorian, came out of stealth mode this week to reveal a product that enables consumers to integrate and control multiple TV-connected devices from one over-arching platform.
The Caavo features eight HDMI inputs that can connect to a wide range of devices, including streaming players like Roku, Fire TV devices, MVPD-supplied set-top boxes, Blu-ray players and gaming consoles. A lightweight client on the Caavo can detect and control them all from a unified interface and can, for example, link the viewer directly to a show or a movie available from individual apps or retrieve a show that’s recorded to the local DVR.
The idea is to help consumers manage a growing array of devices and to remove some of the manual struggles required when having to switch to different HDMI inputs or know which apps offer access to specific types of content.
“Content has never been better, but access to that content on the biggest screen, your TV, is really a struggle,” Caavo co-founder and CEO Andrew Einaudi said during a presentation at this week’s Recode Code Media event in Dana Point, Calif.
“We own a giant pile of boxes,” and Caavo aims to address the challenge of managing them all, added Einaudi, an exec who hails from Microsoft, Sling Media, Jawbone and EchoStar.
While the Caavo does not run any applications or play any content directly, it deep-links to content and the apps across the devices the consumer owns. The Caavo also comes with a voice-based remote control and will support a “skill” for Amazon’s Alexa platform.
In the demo, they asked via Alexa to play Stranger Things via the Caavo, and the device turned on the TV and accessed the series on Netflix via the app running on an Apple TV without requiring the user to drill through the Apple TV UI to get there.
The demo showed Caavo connected to a Dish set-top, Roku player, Apple TV, PS4, Xbox One, Chromecast adapter, Fire TV box and Blu-ray player. The system is also set up to detect and access the right device. For example, if the user begins to use a PS4 controller, the Caavo will auto-switch to the Sony-made gaming console.
Caavo is also designed to learn the user’s preferences in terms of which device to access for specific apps like Netflix or Hulu. That preference will be set the first time the user searches for a title, noted co-founder and tech lead Ashish Aggarwal.
But, at a starting price of $399, the Caavo won’t come cheap. The product, which uses pegs to manage the cabling for all the devices it’s connected to, is set to launch in June and start shipping in September.
Founded in 2014, San Francisco-based Caavo has raised about $17 million, according to CrunchBase. Investors include Greylock Partners, DCM Ventures, Sky, Silicon Valley Bank and Hearst Ventures.
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