Sherlock “Homes”

A trio of former OnStar developers introduces a home-monitoring device.


HouseSetter, a monitoring device for homes, boats, and other facilities, was launched last summer in Northville. Since that time, the company has sold several hundred units. It works on the Verizon wireless network. 

After being on the launch team for OnStar, the advanced in-vehicle communications platform operated by General Motors Co. in Detroit, Chet Huber, Walt Dorfstatter, and Debbie Frakes retired from the automaker — but they didn’t go quietly into the night. Rather, the trio decided to “get the band back together” to develop a home-monitoring system.

The product, called HouseSetter, is a portable device in the shape of a dog named Sherlock that monitors and provides alerts to homeowners. The unit uses a built-in camera set in the neck of Sherlock, along with an integrated backup battery, to ensure continued monitoring of a home’s temperature, power status, and humidity.

The device sends the information it collects through a built-in connection to a cellular network, which is then used to create reports or email alerts that customers receive on their computer, tablet, or smartphone. All the technology is housed in the nearly 6-inch-tall dog, which is plugged into an outlet.

Plans for the monitoring services from Sherlock, which costs around $120 upfront, are available starting at $5 a month. HouseSetter, based in Northville, uses the Verizon wireless network to connect the device.

“We started talking about HouseSetter in 2011 because I had a house in Florida and wanted to keep track of the home when I was away,” says Huber, who spent 37 years at GM and is a mechanical engineer. “If my AC went out in the summer it would be like a mold farm in my home, so Sherlock alerts me when there’s a problem.”

The backup battery lasts for three or four days, and the device will alert a subscriber if the electricity goes out. “We wanted to keep the device super simple and super inexpensive,” Dorfstatter says. “If the power goes out, you don’t have Wi-Fi service. Plus, if you live in a second home for six months, you don’t want to pay for Wi-Fi year-round. The cellular antenna connects with distant towers.”

Frakes says the target market for Sherlock is seasonal homeowners, but it’s also recommended for boat owners who want to monitor an electrical connection. They’ve also sold the device to restaurant owners who want alerts in case a freezer or a wine cellar starts to heat up.

“I call it Walt and Chet’s excellent adventure,” Frakes says. “We have a team of five people, and we project revenue will quadruple this year.”

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Higher Support

More and more companies and businesses are supporting employees in their efforts to receive higher education.

Chocolate Collateral

A cuisine team from Redford Township converges on cocoa.

Parts Air

Ford Motor Co. utilized a massive Antonov AN-124-100 aircraft to ensure the delivery of a 87,000-pound die.

Lip Service

Aspiring beauty mogul Adonai Alexander is our Young CEO of the Year.

Virtual Clouds

Data centers benefit from the region’s stable environment and market access.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Birmingham’s Ford-Peabody Mansion to House Japanese-inspired Restaurant
    Adachi, a Japanese-inspired restaurant, is slated to open for dinner in the restored Ford...
  2. West Bloomfield Township’s Planterra Conservatory to Expand
    Planterra Conservancy in West Bloomfield Township today announced construction plans have been...
  3. Massive $510M Dairy Campus to Open in 2020 North of Lansing
    Glanbia plc, a global nutrition group with a presence in 32 countries; Select Milk Producers...
  4. Annual Fash Bash to be Held on August 16 at the Detroit Institute of Arts
    The Founders Junior Council, the young professionals’ auxiliary of the Detroit Institute of...
  5. Exlterra in Hazel Park Launches Subsoil Nutrient Enrichment System to Enhance Tree and Vineyard Growth
    Exlterra, a sustainable environmental technology company in Hazel Park, today launched NEPS —...
  6. Ford Rolls Out Wearable Technology Globally for Plant Workers Following Successful Tests
    Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn today announced it is rolling out a new wearable technology globally...