Skydog combines a router and a web app that you can use to control what sites your children visit on the Internet. It enforces parental controls and also sends you alerts when something out of the ordinary happens with your Internet usage or when your service suffers an outage.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based PowerCloud Systems has created a router that lets the user set up a bunch of policies so they can monitor which sites certain users can visit and what times of the day they can use the Internet. It also keeps logs of Internet activity so the parent can review it, and it sends alerts to the parent’s smartphone if there’s a violation of the policies. Parents can limit the time that kids spend on gaming and social networking sites, particularly on school days. And they can turn off the Internet at bedtime. Skydog does this because it creates firewall zones that separate users within a home network.
Yes, a parent can use Skydog to spy on the kids. But that’s a conversation that will have to happen in the household. You can also use the router to decide if a Skype call will take priority over a child’s streaming music, or make sure that a streaming movie isn’t interrupted by a high-bandwidth game.
Skydog shipped its early production units to backers who helped drive its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to success.
Skydog is available on the company’s web site and Amazon.com.
“The proliferation of devices, coupled with an insatiable demand for connectivity from each member of the family has created new challenges in managing the home network,” said Jeff Abramowitz, founder and CEO of PowerCloud Systems, in a statement. “Skydog is the only home networking solution that gives parents the tools to manage Internet use based on the individual needs of each user, making it easier for them to help their kids make smart choices online.”
Earlier this week, The American Academy of Pediatrics issued recommendations for parents monitoring and managing their children’s media consumption — including Internet access. A study by McAfee found that parents feel increasingly out of control when it comes to their kids’ Internet usage. On average, kids spend an average of six hours online per day, and parents aren’t happy about that. Four out of five parents do not know how to find out what their kids are doing online, McAfee said.
Part of the reason is that kids have access to tablets, smartphones, and other gadgets that can get them on the Internet. But Skydog monitors the devices that hook up a home network. Family members also watch streaming movies and TV shows that could clog up the network for others in the house.
Skydog 1.1 will sell for $150. PowerCloud plans to offer a range extender for Skydog in the fourth quarter.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based PowerCloud Systems is a startup that spun out of Xerox’s famous Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), the research think tank that invented the personal computer.
The company’s backers include PARC, Qualcomm Ventures, Javelin Venture Partners, and Walden Venture Capital. PowerCloud Systems was founded in 2008, and it has already been shipping its CloudCommand platform for deploying and monitoring Wi-Fi networks and services for businesses such as hotels, retailers, and healthcare providers.
PowerCloud Systems has raised $8.5 million, not counting the $121,812 it raised on Kickstarter.