Ethan Carlson

Prototype Engineer - Entrepreneur - Experience Designer


Electrical Engineer


Cactus was a power strip that was app-controllable. This way you could schedule any device that plugged into a NEMA-15 outlet, for example to turn on a rice cooker 30 minutes before you get home. It also had basic power metering capability to monitor energy use or alert you if you had left something on, and had the ability to trigger based on the strength of a bluetooth connection, with the idea that you could have lights turn on automatically when you walked into a room.


Cactus was meant to allow home automation in a way that was beautiful and easy to use. We strove for an attractive design to make an object that could be part of the home rather than hidden in the background. The electronics were built to be safe and versatile so as to support unanticipated use cases.

My Work

I designed all of the electronics, did the PCB layout, and built the first prototypes. The controller was a Particle Photon.


We were unable to make the economics work at a level that lined up with the funding we had at the time and the scale we were interested in pursuing. We did not have enough funding to take the product through underwriting and so it was abandoned in 2014.