Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The first Smart Home Insurance in Scandinavia

LocalTapiola and Cozify have launched the first Smart Home Insurance in Scandinavia. The combined product offering consists of the Smart Home Insurance by LocalTapiola and the LocalTapiola Smart Home bundle offered by Cozify.

Background for the launch

LocalTapiola contacted Cozify to set up a smart home pilot with their consumer customers after pioneering a smart life insurance product. The pilot was kick-started within a month and it was conducted during 2016. The objective was to gain an insight into the preferences of ordinary consumers in terms of connected devices and what could be the role of the insurer in introducing smart home benefits.

The results of the pilot were encouraging: customers liked the idea that the insurer becomes more proactive companion in life instead of a reactive compensation provider when the accident has already happened. In addition, a lot of other new service ideas for future development were born in the co-creation sessions.

The Cozify smart home solution


Today’s launch is the first in the Nordics that combines extensive home insurance protection with an open smart home system that warns the customer automatically when something bad is about to happen. In the case of a water leak, fire or burglary, it is essential to identify and limit the damages as early as possible. The customer gets a notification into the smartphone with clear instructions what to do and where to call to get the assistance of LocalTapiola emergency service personnel.


The basis of the LähiTapiola solution is the standard Cozify smart home product but the companies have jointly planned custom behavior to optimize the customer experience.  This way it is possible to maximize the benefit for the insurance business.

Towards usage based insurance

Many insurers strive to offer usage based solutions to their customers. Examples include an auto insurance where the insurance premium is determined by the driving habits by the use of telematics. This attracts buyers that are likely to be cautious and conscious about security. In home and property insurance, the smart home hub can be used as the telematics equivalent to enable learning about the factors that affect risk profiles and to provide additional value to customers. Cozify supports streaming of near-real-time data either in raw format to be analyzed in the systems of the partner or alternatively Cozify can create custom dashboards where the data is presented in the preferred format.

About the companies

Cozify is a Finnish smart home technology company that works with service providers to boost their core business by utilizing the latest IoT technology and resulting data. Cozify smart home is an open system that can be customized to support the business drivers of our channel partner. The most popular use cases are to increase security of homes, automate lights and entertainment and improve energy efficiency. For more information about partnership opportunities, please see the Partners page.

LocalTapiola (LähiTapiola in Finnish) is the largest mutual insurance company in Finland. LocalTapiola’s products and services cover non-life, life and pension insurance, as well as investment and saving services. Premiums written in LocalTapiolas’s non-life insurance are more than €1.2 billion. The number of customers is nearly 1.6 million. For more information about the smart home insurance, please see the product page (in Finnish)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What does IoT mean for your consumer business?


Question: To warmup a bit, could you please tell us a bit about your role here in Cozify?

Antti: I am responsible for business development, which in practice means working with our channel partners to introduce smart home solutions to their customers.

Question: Internet of Things (IoT) has been around some time and the hype around it has been huge. Why IoT is relevant to me?

Antti: IoT affects our everyday life already today, even though we don't necessary recognize it. For businesses, IoT is a huge megatrend that is sweeping across industries creating opportunities for increased operational efficiency and data driven business logic.

From the consumers point of view, for example TV's, amplifiers, speakers, game consoles are connected to the internet. It starts to be difficult to buy devices that are not somehow connected. The issue is most of them are point solutions that are good in the one thing they are designed for. This results in a clutter of apps in the smartphone and none of them interact with each other, thus wasting a lot potential benefits.

Question: What kind of benefits do you mean?

Antti: Well, you may already have a wireless multi-room speaker system, such as Sonos. And then you might have a Belkin Wemo motion sensor. Wouldn’t it be nice to make them play together? You would want to turn on the music when you walk into the kitchen at a time when you typically prepare food. Or play a loud dog bark when you are not around and there’s movement on the porch.

Obviously just the imagination is the limit once you start exploring the possibilities. Use cases can range from convenience to security to energy efficiency. For example, motion sensors are very handy in many cases: it is possible to automate lights as you move around the house and have the right kind of light based on the time of day/sunrise/sunset/darkness level. Or movement can trigger video recording if nobody is supposed to be at home.

Question: I’m interested in saving energy. How can I do it without compromising comfort?

Antti: If you have an air-to-air heat pump (like they are called here in Scandinavia) or an air conditioner, you probably don’t want the AC to run when the door has been left open for more than a minute. Or only heat the room or house when somebody is around. When devices are connected, everything happens automatically and best part is, it is remarkably easy to adjust rules and scenes whenever you want.

Question: What about data security?

Antti: That really is a hot topic and it makes sense to have a bit of patience to look at the implementation. Some systems rely entirely on cloud services, i.e. all the data is transferred to a remote server, which then determines what should be done with it. This could be a bit of a risk if you value your privacy or reliability of the system. I would recommend looking at products that are based on a hub that resides in your home. This way it is possible to make it more secure and much more responsive as it doesn’t rely on your internet connection.

To ensure everything is in order from the security point of view, we conduct security audit at least once a year, where third party company completes a full security review of our backend, hub software and mobile application. If issues are found, everything is fixed and audit is done again. This way we can be sure all possible issues are fixed and the security is not compromised.

Question: Can service providers benefit from IoT?

Antti: Yes, definitely. It is possible to start offering smart home as a service to your consumer customers and complement your current offering. Once your customers get used to the perks of the system, it is unlikely that they want to churn to another service provider. This way you can increase customer stickiness and be relevant in their everyday life. There is strong evidence that this increases your Net Promoter Score.

Question: Great! Are there any other benefits?

Antti: There are examples where the core business benefits directly from the smart home. Take e.g. the insurers: they can offer their customers an open smart home system that is making their life more comfortable every day while protecting against water leaks, fires and burglaries. The insurer saves on the number and value of claims and can proactively take care of repairs if the damage happens.

It is also good to remember the IoT derived data is the potential bonanza for the service providers. With careful analysis, it is possible to segment your customers very specifically and offer only relevant services to them. For the insurance industry, this paves the way towards usage based property insurance products. However, one must be extremely conscious about communicating the benefits the consumer can expect in exchange of submitting data generated in his home to a 3rd party. Naturally, we don't share our users' data in any way without asking permission to do so from our users. And all shared data must be anonymized anyways.

Question: Sounds interesting, where can I find out more?

Antti: Cozify is a Finnish consumer IoT startup that has developed a full-stack smart home solution. We sell our solution directly to consumers while building our channel partner network internationally. If you’d like to learn more in your consumer role, feel free to explore our website http://en.cozify.fi/. For your business needs, just head to http://en.cozify.fi/pages/for-partners or request a meeting with me (antti@cozify.fi).

Antti Vihavainen
Business Development & Sales, Cozify Oy

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

ZigBee devices - Overview


One of the most popular technologies for wireless smart home communication is ZigBee, Z-Wave being its closest competitor. Both are several generations ahead in features compared to the classic radio based wireless remote control devices that operate e.g. on the 433 MHz radio band.

ZigBee offers a robust communication channel between the devices so that each message can be either delivered successfully or the failure to do so is detected and reacted upon. Another great advantage is the mesh networking capability where each mains powered device propagates and routes the messages to extend the range of the Zigbee network.

ZigBee radio operates with low power consumption which enables the devices to be running on batteries. The radio communication is encrypted to secure your home from hackers or from unintentional controlling.

Cozify & ZigBee

We at Cozify have had good experiences with ZigBee devices in general. All devices are tested thoroughly before official support is announced. Recommendations are only given to devices that are proven to work reliably.

Here are our top-3 ZigBee device recommendations of March 2017:

Philips Hue Lights

Philips Hue lights are stylish and most reliable wireless lights we’ve met so far. Available as bulbs, table tops, wall/ceiling lamps and led strips.

Philips Hue Motion


Affordable, reliable and stylish motion detector, that also comes with an in-built temperature and daylight sensor.

Osram Lightify Plug

Reliable, simple to use power plug.

Tips'n'Tricks

Before moving into solving problems and issues, it is important to emphasize the easiness of installation and use, and most often design of modern ZigBee devices. In most cases, ZigBee devices are reliable. However, like with everything where software is involved, we sometimes face problems and need a few useful tips to recover.
  1. Once taken into use, Zigbee devices are rather reliable. But in case issues are faces, first thing is to check, and if needed, replace the battery. 
  2. This is simple and sounds obvious, but bring the device closer to the hub. If this improves the reliability, then either the distance between the device and the hub is too long, or the signal is blocked by for example a wall.
  3. Always ensure that all your Zigbee devices are on. Sometimes lamp or bulb is switched off, which means the mesh network might get broken. If the lamp which is switched off is crucial node of your mesh network, other devices connected to the hub through these devices, will be unavailable.
  4. Sometimes the Zigbee mesh network needs to be rebuild. Devices don't always route the signal from and to the hub optimal way. To rebuild Zigbee mesh network, turn all your Zigbee devices on, unplug the Cozify Hub, and leave it off 10 to 15 minutes. This is something that might help if newly added devices don't work reliably. Or if issues begin when you change the location of your Zigbee devices.
  5. A bit more advanced way to do troubleshooting is to ensure the Zigbee channel the hub uses is as free of wifi networks as possible. Please check out this article for troubleshooting tips. If channels collide, try changing either the hub or wifi router channel as far from each other as possible. The channel Cozify Hub uses can be changed from the Cozify app (settings). Note, that if you change the Cozify Hub Zigbee channel from the app, you must re-pair all your Zigbee devices.

Security of the technology 

Even with encryption all the wireless devices suffer from the fact that the radio signals can be jammed by skillful hackers. Then it is up to the system’s design to decide what happens when a device becomes unreachable; does it make an alarm or just plays “robust” to device failures and ignores them. The security of Zigbee devices in general is good. For the absolute highest level of security (and reliability), we suggest installing wired sensors, for example FutureNow relay units, for places that are prone to attract skilled burglars. For the rest of us, the wireless sensors are great for keeping the home secure from unwanted visitors.

ZigBee vs Z-Wave comparison

Although very similar, there are a few differences between the ZigBee and Z-Wave technologies. The prices have come down a lot over the past few years on both device families, and they will continue to drop, but still the Z-wave devices are a bit more expensive. For the money, the end users have enjoyed a better interoperability between the Z-wave certified devices. ZigBee is an open standard and the increased competition has had an impact on the pricing.

ZigBee uses the same radio channel as WiFi and can therefore potentially cause interference. Z-Wave uses unlicensed radio bands that are different in EU and USA due to their regulations. That’s why the end users' needs to select the correct version of their devices. On paper Z-wave has a slightly longer range and ZigBee has a higher data rate, but in real-life these differences are not noticeable.

Both protocols have evolved during the past years to be closer to each other in feature wise. In the end, it boils down to the support available in the selected smart home system. At this very moment, the Cozify Hub supports ZigBee out of the box and the support for the Z-Wave is coming soon. The hub has already all the needed hardware inside, so only a software update is needed for all the existing Cozify users to begin using Z-Wave devices, once it is available.

Read more about Cozify Hub and supported devices from our home page, www.cozify.fi

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cozify, Rosendal Real Estate and TMPL have built 1st fully cozified apartment building to Uppsala, Sweden

Finnish startup company Cozify Oy has today announced exciting news about 1st apartment building project called Tiunda Park built by Rosendal Fastigheter, Sweden, to include Cozify smart home features and functionalities in all 34 apartments. Cozify offering complements TMPL solution, that offers ways to inhabitants to follow electricity and water consumption, and be in touch with neighbors, landlords and service providers from the area.

Cozify Hub and a set of high quality smart devices, including motion and fire detectors, door sensors and wall switches, were installed and configured in building construction phase. “It is important to take into consideration the needs of both residents and the landlord. Residents need a modern, easy to use and safe home for all family members. Whereas the landlord needs to handle issues like changes in user privileges when people move in and out.”, says Cozify founder and CEO Kimmo Ruotoistenmäki. “During the past year, there has been an increasing demand to add support for devices, like relays, to serve the needs of builders. This is definitely an interesting new business area for us”, he continues.

“We were looking for a modern and robust solution that is easy to integrate with our own TMPL platform and the mobile app. Building management and apartment level user privileges control were important selection criteria for us. With Cozify, we can provide highly appreciated increased security level for our customers. Open platform and extensibility were also important topics for us. We evaluated several different home automation entities, and found out Cozify fulfilled our needs best.”, says TMPL CEO, Eric Anderbjörk.

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Cozify Oy is a Finnish startup company founded in March 2013, that offers home automation platform and toolset to fulfill increasing and fast growing home automation demand from both consumers' and different businesses point of view. Cozify is headquartered in Espoo. Team behind the company has been responsible for the creation of several successful companies and service concepts. http://en.cozify.fi

TMPL Solutions AB develops digital solutions for safe and environmentally friendly housing and living environments, with a focus on sustainable urban planning and community development. TMPL is a subsidiary of the Rosendal Fastigheter AB, based in the Uppsala/Stockholm area. The company was founded in 2015 and has 12 coworkers. Read more on www.tmpl.se



Additional information:
Kimmo Ruotoistenmäki, CEO, GSM. +358 40 352 8898 / kimmo@cozify.fi
Eric Anderbjörk, CEO, GSM. +46 706 200107 / eric@tmpl.se

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cozify News: Security Challenge 2016 - Summary


Cozify participated the Information Challenge finals hosted by Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority November 2016. Event was part of Junction Hackatlon -2106, where tech enthusiasts meet, design and develop ideas into actual projects with like-minded hackers. Cozify and a few other companies gave their smart home hub and supported devices for the teams to hack. The target for each team was to find as many security vulnerabilities as possible during the given time.

The results were as we expected. The feedback we received from the teams was excellent quality and most importantly, the teams could not break the security of our system during the event.

“It was interesting to follow how different teams work. I think it is important to offer challenges like this for talented and extremely professional young hackers to really show what they can do. Good result was not a huge surprise for us. We audit all components of our solutions at least yearly, including Cozify Hub, Cozify application, and our backend systems. Security is top priority for us and have been taken into consideration from the begin.”, says Kimmo Ruotoistenmäki, CEO, Cozify.

This was the first-time Security Challenge event was organized. “We are happy to join security challenge event also in the future, if such events are arranged. To challenge yourself and the way how you work time to time is always useful. And if security issues are found, it is better to find possible those in controlled environment and fix immediately, compared to some vague notifications. This was a great event and we want to thank Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority for taking care of all the arrangements.”, he continues.

The aim for the security challenge was to challenge teams to solve information security related questions and search vulnerabilities from different kind of systems; devices, applications, backend systems, and combinations of these all. “Security challenge was a huge success, not only because teams were talented and highly professional, but also because of great support from companies who joined the challenge. During the event it was obvious, that there are huge differences between companies and products in means of security. Companies coming from Finland tend to take security more seriously compared to other similar companies. Still, there are always something need to be improved, and companies must develop their own security competence all the time.", says Jarkko Saarimäki, director of cyber security centre, Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority.

Espoo, 16. February 2017

Thursday, February 9, 2017

433 MHz devices - Overview

433 MHz devices have their place in today's home automation space. Simple and straightforward technology enables low-cost devices, but is also vulnerable to security and reliability issues. These problems can often be avoided, as long as you keep in mind a few basics.



In the autumn of 2015 Cozify added support for a selection of Nexa and Proove sensors and smart plugs that operate on the 433 MHz frequency. That lead to a steep increase in the sales to consumers. At the beginning of 2016 we were very happy with the choice we had made: our customers were able to reap more benefits from the devices they had already acquired and it significantly lowered the threshold to start using the Cozify Smart Home. In appropriate use, they are handy and worry-free.

However, as always, there are reasons for low cost. The 433 MHz devices are not based on any common protocol as all manufacturers have to come up with their own protocol or loan it from their neighbour. Partly due to inexpensive components there is quite a bit of variation in the implementation of the protocol even between two devices that should be the same. This has resulted in significant amount of unexpected work, which has in turn delayed some other projects. Implementation of Z-Wave support is one of them, unfortunately.

All 433MHz devices that we have encountered so far are only capable of one-way communication. I.e. the smart plug can only receive a command to turn on or off, but cannot acknowledge that the command has been executed. Therefore, the Cozify Hub must assume the state of the device, which is not optimal. In practice, hub commands plug five times "Turn the plug on", but cannot verify from the plug if the message was really received.

Some 433 MHz devices only send their status into the air. For example, the thermometer transmits the data once every minute regardless of the traffic in the same frequency at that moment. This leads to mixing of the messages as more 433MHz devices are added to the system. Hub cannot ask from the thermometer what the temperature is, but have to wait until the value is sent next time, meaning after a minute or so.

Cozify Hub prioritizes listening to the traffic instead of sending. We recently visited the home of a customer where the 433MHz devices were practically unusable. They randomly worked, but always with a significant delay. Using a sniffer, we found out that the cable modem wall mount sent disturbance on a wide frequency band, thus jamming Cozify to listen to possible messages. By moving the Hub by 1,5 meters the system became fully functional.



433 MHz frequency devices work well, as long as the technology used by the restrictions are taken into account. Positioning the motion sensor is careful, because if the motion detector continuously detects motion, it covers other 433 MHz devices signals thus making it impossible for the hub to receive or send commands to other 433 MHz devices. Positioning devices is important, because signal must go through from the hub to the device, and vice versa. Depending of the device type. Changing hub or device place a bit, might make a huge difference in reliability. In general, the case survives by experimenting and observing the situation on the ground.

Pros

  • Inexpensive devices
  • Simple technology to implement
  • Widely used technology
  • Devices been in the market for some time

Cons

  • One-way signal traffic (hub is not able to confirm or ask device state
  • No agreed standard between device manufacturers
  • Sensitive to interference
  • Signals to and from the device cannot be encrypted
List of Cozify supported 433 MHz devices can be found here.

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Cozify and security - our approach

In the latter half of 2016, the general media started publishing articles about the security level of the IoT devices. There was also a story (case Mirai) about a massive bot attack that used millions of cheap Chinese IP-cameras to block the internet traffic and caused some of the biggest Internet services to go down for a while. Furthermore, a group of hackers used drones to hijack Philips Hue lights in November 2016. In this post we explain our approach regarding the security issues. Keep on sending comments and questions to us, we are more than pleased to help and reply.

Cozify uses the internet connection to enable remote access for the users to control their devices and to update its own hub software from time to time. However, the architecture has been built in a way, that Cozify Hub can control devices at home without an internet connection. This way the home owners don't have to rely on their internet connection.

All the traffic that goes through Cozify to the internet is encrypted. We use JWT-token based technology to identify authorized users' devices from the unauthorized ones.

To ensure that the Cozify security is on the required level, our solution; meaning the application, the hub software and the backend, has been designed in co-operation with industry security experts. To ensure the level of security is at the best possible level - we also conduct a security audit at least once a year. The audit is done by 3rd party independent professionals.

In addition to the audits, we participated in a security challenge arranged by the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority in November 2016. The main idea was to give our hub software, application and backend to teams of security experts all around the country, which then tried to find and break the security measures in all possible ways. The teams did find some minor issues, but no serious vulnerabilities were not found. We consider that as a good result. On a side note, we have already fixed the found issues.

Redundant backend

Like most of the companies today, we don't have our own datacentre to run the servers required by our back-end systems. We are currently using Amazon’s data centres in Ireland for IaaS (Infrastructure-As-A-Service). Amazon guarantees 99.95% availability for the E2 and we’ve had very good experiences with Amazon over the years with only one service outage in five years. It is important to keep in mind though, that it's much more important to have a redundant and scalable setup, than a high SLA for a single server or a single location.

Data privacy of the Cozify users

Our customer data is stored on Amazon's European data centres that have more strict security policies and conditions than for example the servers located in US. All our employees and subcontractors have signed a confidentiality agreement, and our core developers have a Security Clearance with the Finnish government.

We examine anonymous log data to improve our service and to run overall health checks, and to fix bugs. We look into customer data only when its required. We always ask for permission or inform the user if we access hub log files.

We do have plans to utilize data we collect from our users, but that will be strictly anonymised. One possible scenario for user data usage is to compare for example heating stats between different users. Or how certain rules or devices have been used. It is important to note that all such data mining is anonymised when we are looking for trends in these kind of scenarios.

All in all, we will communicate our privacy policies as clearly and transparently as possible, and ask for permission from the user to use of their data.

Conclusion

We follow and measure all the possible latest security aspects you can expect from any service holding some of your personal data. On that regards, your data is in good and safe hands once the data reaches our service.

The question you might have is, that if Cozify ensures the security from Cozify’s end? What about other IoT devices that are connected to Cozify Hub? The base rule is that the more advanced technology the device is built on, the higher standards it also has out of the box, in terms of security.

Out of the devices that Cozify supports, the more affordable 433MHz devices have the lowest security level. The ZigBee, WiFi, Z-Wave and Bluetooth devices are more secure in general. The level of quality and security often goes hand in hand.

For additional in-depth interview with Kimmo, our CEO, about the subject, visit the interview conducted by wccftech.com here: http://wccftech.com/review/launch-review-cozify-smart-home/2/

This is Cozify’s blog, where we ruminate on home automation technologies and practices and share company news. Articles come from our own team as well as other experts in the field.

You are welcome to read and comment.