Smart cities, smart phones, smart work not hard work and smart homes to complement it. This is perhaps the dream of the New Gen. To help them realise it, there are start ups like Picostone that has provided automation solutions in 1500 homes in the past two years. Virang and Niket Sarvaiya has taken a rather unconventional route in a market dominated by big brands Google and Amazon. Their slogan, ‘Make in India’ with products and technologies engineered and designed for the country. They have come up with a variety of products that lets you control your appliances remotely, save energy by pre-programmed dimming and switching off lights and fans, curtain controllers,to heavy controllers that regulate geysers, motors to name a few.
In an interview to Corporate Ethos, Virang Jhaveri, Co-Founder of Picostone talks about the uniqueness of smart homes and what all innovations are in the pipeline in Home Automation industry.
When we think of smart homes, the first name that comes to mind is Alexa Amazon or the Google Assistant. What made you think of setting up Picostone and create a ‘Made in India’ product under Picostone?
Home Automation is not a new phenomenon and has been present through wired technology for nearly four decades in India. Lack of affordable product options, need for overall wiring for installation of products and lack of credible brands led to the slow growth of this segment in the country.
With the growth of smart phones and Wifi technology, new age start-ups introduced products and services focusing on affordability, ease of installation, distributed installation and smart phone access to gain remote control accessibility of appliances installed at homes.
Further development in the segment led to products ranging from simple automation to home security, video accessibility of indoor settings, motion detecting sensors that could easily plug and play with existing devices and overall premise settings to provide external and internal safety and security features. Similarly, product development was also focused on two other important parameters like prior products default warnings and monetary savings that could lead to better management and control of appliances in the long run.
The integration of AI in home automation products now provides optimization of product resources, security optimizing, remote access & voice control of appliances, provide savings through rational use of energy and also provide safety and security features. The new age Home Automation products are wireless, affordable and are completely controlled using smart phones.
As for Alexa and similar products, home automation products can be linked to these devices to have voice controlled access.
Is the awareness of smart homes increasing in the country or do people still consider it not a necessity but an avoidable luxury?
The purpose of Home Automation is to provide ease of use and control over the home appliances. Though many would perceive home automation to be luxury, the features that new age products offer far exceeds this perception to being a smart installation that help in controlling home devices that helps in proving monetary savings, security of the premises and control over the internal settings from anywhere across the globe.
With start-ups developing affordable products that can give remote access and control of all appliances, home automation will soon become a regular and expected norm for all households in India. The growth in the last few years in this segment is a testimony to this trend.
In your view, what constitutes a smart home? Is it just employing the virtual assistants or setting out every device to be attuned to a central system?
A smart home constitutes remote access and control over the entire premise, internal and external, to improve standard of living for the entire society. Eventually, the role of home automation in smart homes will be to control all possible appliances, access points and security features to attune to the mood of the home owner. Apart from this, home automation features will also provide prior warnings about appliances default, call for medical and fire emergencies and also control air quality and oxygen levels to create a healthy and safe living environment.
What in your view are the advantages of ‘smart homes ‘and is there any risk out of a systemic failure on this count?
Smart homes will be technology driven. The risk associated with Smart Home Technology (SHT) can be generalised to the same risks that one has while using his smart phone. But technology developers are working continuously on individual products to understand how each device communicates with other and are providing features that provides security against hacking and information theft.
•Developers are covering the risk by encrypting all the communications using AES 256-bit key.
•All server communication is SSL based
•The security provided by having a Smart Home is far greater. Features like – intrusion detection, door lock sensors, window break, motion sensor.
How do you visualise the growth of Picostone in the future and how do you plan to reach out to a large customer base in India or even abroad?
The Home automation industry in India is expected to reach INR 30,000 crore by 2020. Currently, the industry is growing at the rate of 20% y-o-y with 60% revenue generation through home renovation and the remaining through retrofitting.
Picostone is a funded entity and in a period of one year, we have created a distribution network across 21 cities in India and are, currently, focusing on improving our geographical presence across other important Tier I& II locations.
Our focus is on developing products that create qualitative value for our users in terms of affordability, monetary savings and security. We are one of the few automation start-ups in India who design, develop and manufacture our products in India. We will be launching a series of new products in the coming three quarters that can easily plug and play with our existing products and can be controlled using our app.
Are you planning to have robotic system, machine intelligence to be deployed in industrial and residential buildings?
We are in the process of developing products that cater to large residential societies that will provide a central control to the society for external premise access and individual control to residents from door access, appliances control to internal safety and security features.
•Energy Monitoring will be a important area where Machine intelligence will be deployed to save energy and preventive maintenance.
•Motion Sensors along with Machine Intelligence will be used to save energy by providing automated controls of peripheral lights.
•Commercial Robotic security guards would be made a reality in the next decade. We would definitely be investing into research and development in this domain.