Kapsul Air’s ‘smart’ air conditioner actually cools

We got a quick demo from CEO Kurt Swanson on the long-awaited W5 connected unit. Here's what's next for the Center City company.

The Kapsul team at Techstars Demo Day in Boston.

(Courtesy photo)

Inside WeWork’s 1900 Market location on Tuesday, the central air had the temperature at an almost-annoyingly pleasant 72 degrees.

But if you were to put your hand above the vents on Kapsul Air’s W5 connected air conditioner unit, temporarily installed on a table in the center of the coworking spot, you could feel a bold stream of chilled air that’s been years in the making.

“There’s not much that it has to work against here,” CEO Kurt Swanson cedes, in reference to the coworking space’s crisp temperature, while giving the first semi-public demo of the unit. Typically, though, the 5,000 BTU unit can cool an average-sized room in about half an hour, Swanson said.

Initially launched as a proof of concept in 2016, and met with overwhelming support from backers on Kickstarter and Indiegogo to the tune of $2.3 million, the sleek window-installed unit — then called “Noria” —was supposed to hit the market in the summer of 2017. After grappling with technical and production delays, the unit is slated to start shipping in time for next summer’s heat wave.

Center City-based Kapsul Air prides itself on making the unit half as noisy as a standard window unit. It weighs similarly to standard units: around 40 pounds and comes with handles and a customized enclosure to make installation smoother.

The big selling point to the W5 — initially available to crowdfunding backers for as little as $249, with current pre-orders going for $499 — is tech-based: there’s a mobile app to control the unit and Amazon Alexa and Google Home integrations in the works. Also under development is a geofencing capability, which shuts down the system once a user’s cellphone goes outside a pre-determined area.

“The big thing we wanted to fix was to make installation simple,” said Swanson. “At this point the design is ready to go and we’ll be scaling up production in Q3 to Q4.”

Watch Swanson himself give a quick demo of the unit:


To make up for the delays in product shipment, the company is exploring the possibility of offering some of the company’s 6,000 backers equity in Kapsul Air through an online platform still to be determined.

“We’re significantly late,” Swanson said, “but one of the things that’s exciting to me is to see people invested in something we worked so hard on. I’m excited that backers share that dream with us.”

Some 40 backers showed up at WeWork to ask questions and peep the unit in real life. The company has demos planned for backers in New York and Boston.

In May, the company announced some additional funding to the tune of $400,000 from Ben Franklin Technology Partners. The company is already thinking about its next product: the D Series Dehumidifier, with pre-orders slated to go live in September.

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