When Marc Perea woke one night to grab a drink of water, he was greeted by a familiar melody, a faint blue glow, and the sound of fingers click-clacking on a keyboard. He followed the clues to his family’s living room, where he found his then 8-year-old son Alex playing his favorite computer game, League of Legends, at 4 a.m. on a school night. Marc scooted Alex back off to bed and, along with wife Candice, began to research parental control software.
The more the Pereas researched, the more obvious it became that no existing product would fit their family’s needs. They had four kids and 30-some devices to manage, but Candice, a software developer, was working from home two days a week and could not afford to have her network connection slowed down by constant screenings. Besides, parental control at the computer level didn’t seem to deter Alex and his siblings from accessing the depths of the Internet at all hours of the night.
“If you’ve got kids that are smart– and kids are learning this stuff pretty quick– they find ways around it,” Candice said.
At the time, Candice and Marc were working with an old friend, George Zarebski, to build a startup called MCP Networks. The Minot-based company was looking into networking for businesses, with an emphasis on redundant Internet– configuring two network connections so that even if one fails, businesses can still have access to the Internet. But Zarebski was fighting a similar battle for bandwidth with his own kids, so the team turned their attention to home networks.
And MCP Networks’ first product, Aerez, was born.
Aerez is a mobile app and router solution which uses the cloud to let you see and improve your home’s Internet connection– or, as the Pereas like to say, it “turns your cell phone into a remote control for your home network.”
The software’s smart algorithms allow users to balance the bandwidth allocated to each device, ensuring that every member of the household gets the Internet they need– meaning that while Alex is busy battling it out on the Field of Justice, Candice can still get her work done.
Aerez also helps take the “trouble” out of troubleshooting by alerting you to problems such as congestion on your network, a device that is consuming too much bandwidth, or a lost connection to your Internet service provider. That’s right– no more “just unplug it and plug it back in!” when Game of Thrones won’t stop buffering.
The parental control function of Aerez even gives you the power to stop time– okay, not really, but it does give you the power to pause the Internet on any or all devices in the home, which is pretty much the same thing. In addition to pausing the internet, Aerēz also provides a child-friendly content filter, safe search, screen time limits, and a bedtime blocker.
As for the hardware, Aerez offers two options: a basic router ($99) and a premium router ($199), which offers faster speed and better wifi. Both routers come with a three-month trial period, after which a subscription to the service will cost $10 a month.
The Pereas have tested Aerez with local families to an overwhelmingly positive response, and will go into public beta launch on August 1. With the feedback they receive from the beta test, they hope to refine the software and take it to Kickstarter.
Learn more about Aerez at 1 Million Cups this week, and visit aerez.net to sign up to be a part of the beta launch.