A Different Kind of Smart Sensor

Today, we will talk a bit about a unique product that can help save lives and property without hurting consumers' wallets.

According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), electrical fires cause over 1,300 injuries, 420 deaths, and $1.4 billion in residential property damage each year. The report also attributed 38% of home fire deaths to homes without smoke alarms and identified early detection and reporting of the fire as key to minimizing loss of life and property.

1,300 injuries, 420 deaths, and $1.4 billion in residential property damage each year. 38% of home fire deaths are due to homes without smoke alarms!

Traditional smoke alarms generate a warning inside the property via a loud siren alert, but they provide no indication to the outside world, meaning they are not connected to the internet. As you can see from the Parks Associates report diagram below, the second highest smart home value proposition is for receiving alerts when smoke, fire or carbon monoxide is detected.

Today, there are a few smart smoke alarms available on the market which can provide alerts to the outside world when smoke, fire or carbon monoxide is detected. Even though these solutions provide the desired connectivity, there are still barriers to entry:

  • Unit Cost  - Most smart smoke detectors requiring an internet connected hub/gateway device to communicate with the outside world range between $50 and $100, and that's without professional installation costs, if any.
  • Setup Cost - Smart smoke alarms that meet NFPA regulations need to be professionally installed.
  • Compatibility - Many houses have multiple smoke alarms to cover the whole home. When upgrading to a smart smoke alarm solution, you would need to replace each one of your existing smoke alarms with a new smart version.

The Parks Associates report said consumers who purchased a smart smoke alarm in the past 12 months own an average of 1.6 smart smoke alarms, so many of these households are buying multiple detectors at once. The report also said nearly 50% of U.S broadband households find a connected device that alerts them to smoke and fire highly appealing. As you can see, consumers want to purchase this type of solution but it can be rather cost prohibitive, in terms of installation cost and purchasing multiple smart smoke alarms, to do so.

Ecolink, a wholly owned subsidiary of Universal Electronics Inc, has developed and patented a unique product called the Fire Fighter to address limitations mentioned above. Focused primarily on innovative new sensing and monitoring products for home safety and security, Ecolink provides tier one brands with solutions ranging from leak detection and freeze damage prevention, to more security oriented products such as our best in class motion detectors with built-in pet detection capabilities.

Fire Fighter intelligently listens for the sound of your existing smoke and/or carbon monoxide alarm and if the alarm is valid, Fire Fighter will send a notification to the internet connected hub, panel or the gateway which in turn can notify the user via a text message or a push notification on their mobile device, or if integrated with QuickSet enabled entertainment systems, it could show a notification on TVs across the home or MDU (Multiple Dwelling Unit). We’ve taken old legacy technology already installed in the home and made it smart and relevant again.

We’ve taken old legacy technology already installed in a building and made it smart and relevant again.

The Fire Fighter is very easy to install and, unlike traditional smoke alarms that meet NFPA regulations, does not require any special wiring or professional installation. You can retrofit your existing smoke alarm system and simply mount the Fire Fighter approximately six inches away from one of the smoke alarms and then add it to your current smart home hub's network. It also achieves an incredible 5 year battery life which is longer than most standard smart home devices can achieve. Also, in most modern buildings, smoke alarms are required to be interconnected which means one Fire Fighter can service the entire home by being next to at least one of them.

Fire Fighter is an easy to install solution that makes any existing smoke/carbon monoxide alarms smart.

By offering zigbee, Z-Wave and proprietary RF versions of the Fire Fighter, we've made it compatible with popular hubs and gateways currently on the market such as Smartthings and Vera hubs as well as Tyco/DSC and Interlogix security panels. In the end, the Fire Fighter is a great cost effective way for consumers to add a potentially life saving feature to their smart home without needing any professional installation.

Repost: Discussing Privacy and Security Concerns at CONNECTIONS

You can read the original post here: Connected Products: Discussing Privacy and Security Concerns with UEI

Given the continual increase in the number of connected products, how can providers ease consumer concerns associated with data security and privacy?

This has been an ongoing debate within the segments we address. The only long term true solution includes a few parameters:

  • On user data: Data captured should be clearly explained, and repeated for consumer to understand, however, more important is how the data is to be used. Consumer consent should not be on the data, rather on the combination of what data is shared and how it is to be used.
  • Data ownership is a rather gray when it applies to device data – who owns this data. There needs to be differentiation between device diagnostic data and consumer data. The device diagnostic data does carry substantial value in what it can enable. The ownership of this data is unclear at the moment, device manufacturer, service provider/ecosystem owner, or consumer. The most beneficial scenario is when data is owned by device manufacturer, regardless of ecosystem, which allows a well-defined relationship started at the time of purchase.
  • Last but not least, privacy should be built into the architecture, smarter edge devices enabled cloud-less implementations which are effectively private. Expanding on what is possible offline/at edge vs what requires a back-end is going to be very interesting.

How will artificial intelligence (AI) impact the smart home, IoT, and connected entertainment landscapes in 2018 and beyond?

In many positive ways, but with some areas to be aware of / plan for:

  • Our data is biased, our implementation of AI cannot intensify this issue. As the workforce will need to evolve/be trained to adapt to new tools and technologies, we need to implement processes that address/prevent undesirable biases. This is essential in entertainment targeting which affects culture, and security/home care implementations which can have serious issues.
  • That said, AI is going to finally make connected devices smart. We still live in a time where connected devices have simply added to our overload of data, with proper implementation of AI they can finally act as assistants.
  • However, one major obstacle remains in the smart home domain. AI systems are only as smart or complete as the amount of data they have access to. The walled garden approach of ecosystem creators has caused data fragmentation issues, and without proper connection of these data silos, no AI will be able to be properly trained to address the end vision of the smart home. (Unless we believe a home will be dominated by a single brand, which is not the case today.)

Will the rise of DIY solutions significantly impact the traditional security landscape?

Although seemingly counter intuitive, we believe this may actually help. All boats will rise with this tide, and the lower barrier of entry is going to help in sell-through of additional monitoring/professional services.

Customer Story – 650 Hours Saved in Just One Week!

Following is a snippet of QuickSet Data Insights, covering the first week of a major cable provider in Europe going live with a next-generation entertainment platform powered by QuickSet Cloud. These insights enable data driven decision making; leading to the refinement of products.

QuickSet Data Insights, powered by Device Knowledge Graph , is one of the benefits of using QuickSet family of products. This enables our customers to take intelligent actions based on quantifiable data about their consumers' installed base. With a data driven culture, we also leverage these points for measuring QuickSet's success and prioritizing features.

Getting Started - Out of The Box Experience

  • 94% of the households automatically set up their devices with zero manual intervention, powered by QuickSet device discovery and fingerprinting technology. 
  • 98% of these successful setups are able to directly tune to content with a single touch. Read more about this feature here.

Above resulted in drastic time savings for consumers. How drastic? considering a manual, user-driven setup takes on average 5 minutes, automatic setup saved the cable provider consumers over 650 hours in the first week alone!

Automatic setup saved the cable provider consumers over 650 hours in the first week alone!

Usage Trends - Peak Times

  • As one can imagine, most consumers setup their devices post typical working hours; we can now prove this using data! Most consumers setup their devices between 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Market Analysis - Audio Penetration

  • 69% of households only set up a TV
  • 31% of households set up an audio device in addition to a TV

Market Analysis - TV Brand Fragmentation

The market remains fairly fragmented; however, the top two brands dominate the majority of the market share, holding ~65% of the installed-base market.

Market Analysis - Median Device Age

With more than one-third of the customers having TVs older than 5 years, and 20% of customers having 2017 model-year TVs, proper support and handling for both legacy as well as new devices is essential.

Fun Fact - Input 1 Domination

Despite the proliferation of devices in recent years and the rise of over the top boxes, “input 1” remains dominated by service providers, with ~ 60% of the newly launched cable boxes, connected to input 1!!