STARTUP CORNER: How can internet make your homes smart? These cos know the trick
Startups like Oakter, Cube26 are keen on tapping India's nascent Internet of Things (IoT) landscape with smart home automation products that let you regulate and control everyday devices such as lights, geysers and air conditioners with just your smartphone.
Even though the market for Internet of Things (IoT) is in a nascent stage in India, a few companies, including startups, are taking baby steps in areas such as residential, commercial and healthcare to gain the early-mover advantage.
Internet of Things allows everyday objects which have Internet connectivity such as smartphones and other gadgets to send and receive data.
Oakter, an Indian IoT startup, is targeting households through a smartphone. Here is how. Buy an Oakter adapter and plug it into an electrical socket and connect any appliance to it. The adapter communicates with the mobile app on your smartphone through WiFi and you can control the appliance.
The company provides a kit for under Rs 10,000.
Oakter’s IoT kits let one control household appliances such as lamps, geysers and air-conditioners.
Shishir Gupta, Chief Executive Officer of Oakter, says the Oakter app lets customers schedule their ACs to switch off for 2-3 hours during night. “This provides energy saving and added comfort since lot of ACs tend to overchill during the night. Oakter reduces energy consumption of AC by 25 percent in months of milder summer (March, April, August, September, October) and 5 percent in peak summer months.”
Citing the adoption of Google’s Chromecast which converts a television set into a smart television, Gupta says: “Penetration of smartphones have made it very conducive for quick adoption of IoT products."
Though Gupta admits that it is still early days for IoT products in the country, “Within the next five years we are going to see a surge in demand for IoT-driven products for households,” he tells moneycontrol.com.
Cube26, another Indian startup, helps you connect bulbs to your smartphone via Bluetooth and lets you light your room. Users can control the intensity of the light and change colours emitted by the smart bulb with the help of an app. The startup, which is backed by domestic ecommerce giant Flipkart, is also planning to introduce products in wearables and healthcare segments.
Once paired with a smartphone, Cube26's IOTA bulbs can also be synchronised to your music playlist and be made to emit changing colours just like a strobe light. You can also instruct the the bulb to flicker to intimate you of calls or notifications on your phone.
Legrand India, the local chapter of a French company, which is into automation solutions, believes that it will be a couple of years before the Indian market warms up to IoT.
Sameer Saxena, President, Marketing, Legrand India, tells moneycontrol.com that IoT products have found interest among the consumers, be it residential, hospitality or the commercial sector. “However, the conversion of these interest into actual business has been quite limited due to exisiting challenges in marketplace, no branded players and service and support.”
While simplifying appliance control is one aspect of IoT products, Gupta says that Oakter’s gadgets also help cut down power consumption. “There are a lot of energy saving possibilities, particularly with energy-guzzling devices like AC, geyser, heater, etc.”
Saxena of Legrand adds that, “IoT devices will change the way of life by bringing more value and quality into the daily life. Consumption pattern of power is one of the many features intrinsic to it. Moreover, managing any pilferages is a basic module in IoT.”
Gupta and Saxena feel that companies must look to capitalise on consumers’ need for convenience, safety and security to drive up IoT adoption.
“Bringing together the three key deliverables – comfort & convenience, safety and security and entertainment — is paramount here,” Saxena says.
“With a compounded annual growth rate of more than 20 percent, this (India’s home automation) marketplace is going to be worth over Rs 1,000 crore soon,” says Saxena.
Experts say that the Internet of Things space is a game-changer. A Gartner report estimates that by 2020, more than 35 billion devices will be connected to Internet globally. It adds that in 2016 spending on new IoT hardware will exceed USD 2.5 million a minute and by 2021, 1 million IoT devices will be purchased and installed every single hour.