NAPLES — The MyEnviro.com Messenger is small, just a few inches long.
When Kevin Borders describes the product to potential customers, he likens the size to a stick of butter. But this is one butter substitute that most people are likely to find quite palatable: When plugged into your computer, the Messenger remotely monitors a home’s mechanical systems.
It’s an alternative – or an addition – to a traditional home watch service that Kevin and his wife Michelle believe many seasonal residents will value.
“A lot of people don’t have home watch,” Kevin notes. “They just bolt the door and go.”
The Borders don’t disparage home watch services; they know there are many things that a person can do that their Messenger can’t. The Messenger, after all, won’t notice if a piece of your lanai enclosure has blown away or if there’s a budding beehive under your eaves.
What it can do, though, is keep a technological 24-hour eye on a home’s humidity, temperature and power.
It can also sense if there’s water where it shouldn’t be, which was the inspiration for the device’s development, Kevin explains.
“My parents had an issue with their basement flooding up north a couple of times while they were down here,” he says.
The Borders moved to Southwest Florida six years ago after watching the waning economic opportunities in their native Detroit area. There, Michelle was a stay-at-home mom with a previous career in sales; Kevin worked in information technology for automotive companies, especially the Big Three.
Because of his professional background, Kevin knew that the rooms where computer servers are located need round-the-clock climate monitoring, and wondered how he could do something similar in a private residence. The biggest hurdle became how to change the existing technology so that wasn’t as costly to purchase or complex to use.
To help them do so, the couple sought an engineering firm that could design a device and software based on their specifications. Ultimately, they enlisted Geist Technology, a Texas company that specializes in Web-based remote monitoring, to create the Messenger.
Rather than take out a bank loan, the couple paid for the product’s development themselves, “digging deep” into their own pockets, Kevin says. It took about nine months to fully develop the Messenger, but now it is up, operational – and ready for Internet routers.
“It’s easy,” Michelle says. “You just plug it in and register it.”
An online account allows users to see their home’s vitals at any hour of the day or night, including the most recent readings and whether or not the numbers are within the normal range. Temperature and humidity levels are checked every 30 minutes, or 48 times daily. And if a user elects to add a water sensor, the system checks 1,440 times daily.
If anything is amiss, homeowners are alerted by e-mail or text message. Up to 10 people can be registered to receive such messages.
“If the temperature’s too high or too low, we’re going to contact you,” Michelle says.
Even if nothing’s amiss, homeowners will hear of it: An e-mail report is sent weekly.
The Messenger is $74.95, and the monitoring service is $10 monthly. The water sensor is an additional $24.95. And it’s also necessary to have an active Internet connection, which is another expense associated with the device; Kevin notes that there are low-cost Internet providers, though.
The price of the product and service is nothing compared to the cost of repairing flood damage, the couple adds.
“Even if the air conditioning is out for two weeks, there is going to be some expense and anguish,” he adds.
The Borders are certain of this. Last summer, before the Messenger’s development was completed, their family went on vacation for a few days. When they returned home, they found their air conditioning was not functioning.
Kevin and Michelle remember their discovery with obvious distaste. The family had driven for hours and, worn and weary, walked into a hot house that smelled of seriously spoiled potatoes.
“If we would have had one of these, we would have known,” Kevin says.
On the web: www.myenviro.com