Airbnb quietly acquires connected sensor startup Lapka

UPDATED: Purchased by Airbnb, sensor maker Lapka is discontinuing all operations and will not be manufacturing or developing any new products.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Airbnb made a curious and quiet acquisition this week. The online residence sharing and rental site has purchased Lapka, a hardware startup building sensors primarily embedded in health-minded devices.

The Lapka team confirmed the merger on the company website on Tuesday.

Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

However, it remains unclear as to how Lapka will fit into the Airbnb world.

Lapka CEO and creative director Vadik Marmeladov clarified the blog post that his design firm never set out to build medical devices but rather "build the most beautiful science ever."

"Whether it was a radiation sensor, EMF sensor or even a breathalyzer, each product was imagined as a token, charm or talisman, not a device," Marmeladov wrote.

He further boasted that Lapka has already brought in more than 100,000 data measurements from sensors scattered across 76 countries.

Looking closer at Lapka's catalog, which includes sensors skewed toward monitoring "personal environment" metrics such as radiation and carbon monoxide, it's possible Airbnb is dipping into making connected home tech of its own, not too far off from what's going on at Google-owned Nest.

Marmeladov added he will be joining Airbnb, also headquartered in San Francisco, but did not specify in what capacity. He only hinted that whatever he will be working on "is beyond explanation."

Lapka as an individual entity is discontinuing all operations and will not be manufacturing or developing any new products.

ZDNet has reached out to Airbnb for further comment.

UPDATE: Airbnb provided the following statement from co-founder and chief product officer Joe Gebbia:

"Since the moment Lapka launched their first product, I have been inspired by their impressive design sensibilities - a combination of beauty, form, and story. These guys have tenacity and drive towards creating the future, and I'm thrilled to get to work alongside them at Airbnb to create a world where people can belong anywhere."

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