Sunday, December 14, 2014

Something small into Santa's bag

The holidays around New Year are just around the corner. The last moment to purchase gifts for your close ones is, well, about right now.

We listed here a few interesting products to help you with your last minute gift shopping.





Adidas miCoach Smart Ball
A football that can tell you the power of your kick and the spin of the ball. The best results are stored into your smart phone and you can compete against your friends and team mates.

Sonos Speaker
Tons of music, podcasts and radio channels at your finger tips. Easy to use, excellent quality.

Babolat Play Pure Drive
A tennis racket that tells the number of hits, the speed of the ball and the spot you hit with the ball. Store the results and compete with your friends. Just like with the Adidas miCoach Smart Ball.

Polar Loop and Garmin Vívosmart™
An activity wristwatch that gives an alarm to your phone in case you are still for too long. It also provides other feedback based on your activities.

Whistle
In case you are not sure if the amount of exercise you give to your dog is enough, the solution is to purchase this new IoT dog necklace.

Beddit
A small band that can be located in your bed under the bed sheets. It is able to analyze the quality of your sleep and give hints on how to improve the quality of your sleep.

Parrot Flower Power Plant Health Sensor
This device is placed into a flowerpot and it throws an alarm in case you have forgotten to water your flowers.

Nest
A thermostat that learns to adjust the room temperature automatically based on your preferences.

iHealth wireless scale
A scale that helps you to reach your weight target.

A laundry machine that shows the remaining course time in your smart phone. You can set the start time from your couch. The course programs are updated automatically from time to time to ensure the best possible washing results.

Withings wireless blood pressure monitor
A blood pressure monitor that stores all the information about your blood measures. The results can be followed from your phone screen and sent directly to your doctor.

Osram Lightify and Philips Hue
Change the ambience at your home easily. Changing the mood at your home has not bee this easy before.

...these just a few to mention! With Cozify, which is soon to be released, you will be able to control several manufacture devices through just one, easy to use interface.

Did I forgot something from the list? Send us your own suggestions and discoveries into our Facebook-feed.

Happy holidays to everyone!

- Tony / Cozify

Btw, a great way to follow what is going on in the IoT space, remember twitter tags #IoT, #homeautomation and #smarthome.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Slush 2014, afterthoughts



Slush 2014 has ended. Conclusions have been made, business cards stacked in neat piles and stored into database. And next steps have been agreed.

Now the whole team is working with important tasks with huge excitement. Mood is great and positive, even better than before the event.

What is Slush?

Slush is a two-days event where startup and growth companies' owners and representatives meet investors, press and naturally each others. This year's Slush was bigger than ever. Over 13.000 visitors from 79 different countries. The number of visitors doubled compared to last year.

One notable part of the event are 300 exhibitors. Companies were selected by a group of influential and high profile professionals. 10% of all the applicants were selected. One of them was Cozify.

900 companies enrolled into 5 minutes pitching-competition. From this list, 100 got their chance to convince a group of investors. The winner was granted with 500.000 Euros investment. Enbrite.ly won this year's competition. We wish all the good for the winner.

So, what stuck into our minds this year?

Slush 2014 was our first public appearance for such a big audience. We put a lot effort into everything to make it matter. Materials, booth design, demo and sharpening our business idea took a lot of time from the whole team. Doing everything well and concentrating into details with great passion is a signal to booth visitors showing that we really care about what we do. Our hard work was well rewarded.

We had our own booth on Tuesday. Small four square meter area where we had to fit a table, tv, small shelf and three (not that small) Cozify advocates. Our booth area was fully packed.

The interest towards our service exceeded our wildest dreams. We presented our service and shared our thoughts with huge amount of visitors from various countries and different backgrounds. It was great to notice there was a real interest towards our service. Many of the booth visitors said they had noticed our service already before the event and wanted to meet us in person to discuss and share thoughts.



Kimmo and Antti had their time at spotlights and were pitching our idea to potential investors and partners in several meetings in order to make valuable connections.

We also got some nice attention from the media. For example one podcast spent some time to explain our service and business model.

Listen brief review from 01:01:01 onward:
Techxpatspodcast

Tuesday was a great day indeed!

On Wednesday we had time to get familiar with other companies' products and services, listen to speeches from inspiring people and meet old and new contacts. The whole event area was filled with a positive and encouraging atmosphere. The visitors were on good mood and the surroundings were amazing. The production exceeded the level of Eurovision contest, held in Helsinki in 2007. The exhibition area was simply put great.

A lot of the companies presenting came from different backgrounds. Biisafe, Optiwatti, Haltian, Nimble, Cosmethics and codementor are examples of interesing consepts and products.

A big part of the event were the inspiring speakers. Ilkka Paananen, Jorma Ollila, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Tiina Zilliacus, Marko Ahtisaari and Mikko Hyppönen inspired and gave people something to think about. Not to mention the speakers from the many other countries.

Once again on Wednesday both Kimmo and Antti were giving presentations about our services with great passion and full heart.

Slush has now grown from a baby event to at least to a teenager level. The number of visitors and companies participating the event is simply amazing. An event that has just in five years grows from 200 visitors to 13.000 is an achievement many don't ever reach.

What remains to be seen is, will the event outgrow from its own carcass. With this year's setup the event was extremely useful for startups like us. We will participate next year for sure. We also recommend the event to everyone and wish all the startups huge success and long life.

Read more about Slush from www.slush.org. Now we, the Cozify team, will land back to the ground level and continue our voyage towards our own dream. The launch date is getting nearer and there is a ton of things yet to be done.

Ps. We will select our next pilot program group soon. To be on the candidate list to become a participant in the next pilot, please fill in our preorder form at www.cozify.fi.



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The sneak peek: Market research

Home automation has become commonplace very quickly. And everywhere!
Or has it? We asked ourselves the same question several times over the past year and a half.

To see if we were right about this, we commissioned a market research study in October this year. We asked people with different backgrounds from Finland, Germany and United States to answer questions related to home automation. A total of 4,000 people responded to the survey: 1,000 from Finland, 1,000 from Germany and 2,000 from the United States. In other words, the survey sample is comprehensive.

A brief note on the geographical differences

Home automation is prominently featured in the United States. New companies and products are popping up every week, and megalomaniacal acquisitions are attracting a lot of attention. For this reason, we expected that home automation had already found its way into many homes in the United States.

The findings, however, showed quite the contrary.



Based on our research, less than 20% of households in the United States have acquired home automation. In Finland, the figure is about 22% and in Germany, the locomotive of home automation, it is just under 25%. Finland and Germany did not surprise us, but the low relative figures in the United State certainly did. This includes products and systems related to the control of safety, energy efficiency, lighting and household appliances.

"The Internet of Things (IoT) is currently receiving a lot of coverage that can be attributed to its great power to revolutionise the operating practices. The results, of course, should always be treated with some degree of caution, but the industry is going through a major transition. Although more than 50% of Germans do not intend to buy home automation in the next two years, there are still 16 million households seriously considering it. In Finland, the corresponding figure is approximately 700,000 households. Hence, the Internet of Things will very soon affect the everyday behaviour of many of us at home.” Antti Vihavainen, Business Development & Sales, Cozify Oy

Antti Vihavainen
Business Development & Sales, Cozify Oy


Why is the penetration rate for home automation in the United States so low?

Although home automation in the product range of shops, operators and other service providers is represented more widely in the U.S. than it is, for example, in Finland, the products have not yet become mainstream.

The fanfare associated with the launch of the Internet of Thing (IoT) easily creates the impression that IoT and new generation home automation have already entered many homes. Particularly in the United States. In this context, it is worth mentioning that IoT is not the same as home automation. And vice-versa.

There is no right answer to this question, but the biggest reason is probably associated with building an image and creating hype. SmartThings, purchased by Samsung for about $200 million dollars, has predicted to be supplied less than 20,000 product packages. This was before the deal was announced this summer. At the beginning of the year, Forbes estimated that the Nest's smart thermostat was found in about 1% of U.S. homes. The numbers are still low. 

Age and home automation

The research reveals an interesting point related to age, particularly in Finland: 25% of people age 56 and older have already purchased products or services in some sector within the scope of home automation. Nearly half of the people have bought products to control lighting, entertainment or home appliances.

The interesting thing here is that exactly the opposite holds true when we check the responses from Germany and the United States. In Germany, by far the largest group to acquire home automation included 18-22-year-olds. In the United States, the differences even out a bit, but younger people there have also purchased more products and services related to home automation than older respondents.

What is the preferred method to acquire home automation

Now we get to a very interesting topic. If respondents were going to buy home automatic, what purchase model would they choose? Don't peek at the answer yet. I challenge you to choose the option below that in your opinion received the most answers:

Purchase model:
  1. Equipment is purchased and paid in full, no monthly payment
  2. A service fee, which covers the equipment starter pack and support for future technologies and equipment
  3. A combination of the above, with a low initial payment to cover at least part of the equipment. The monthly service fee covers additional paid services and support for future technologies and equipment

Answer:

In each country, the result was the following: about half of the respondents would rather buy the whole package as a one-off purchase while the other half liked the model with no initial payment or a low initial payment and a monthly charge.

Young people preferred the one-time purchase option. A majority of respondents 36 and older liked the continuous service model.

What do you think of these results? Did they surprise you? Join the discussion in the comment section below or on our Facebook page and tell us what you would like to hear more about.

- Antti, Business Development, Cozify

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cozify Pilot Kicks Off

It can be difficult to show others what you have been working on. Often, feelings of doubt can creep in. Are we really ready to Go Live? What will others think? Will we meet their expectations? What if the feedback is negative, or will they be happy with the result?

When Cozify began installing pilot systems, we struggled with these feelings. Especially, when the decision was made to charge users for the pilot version. The pressure was on to release a functional, total solution which consists of reliable and high quality equipment. If this wasn't enough, the entire system had to work on a variety of platforms from different smart phone manufacturers.

The pilot package included light bulbs, a motion sensor and a power socket. Customers were offered a selection from which they could select Philips Hue compatible basic bulbs, spotlights, as well as LED-string and indirect light (Bloom) for their pilot installation. Belkin's motion sensor and power socket were also available. The aforementioned products were chosen for the pilot thanks to their reputation for quality and reliability. In addition, they connect seamlessly to our home automation solution via open interfaces.

In order to help us understand how our product is deployed from a user perspective, we participated in the installation phase in the homes of pilot customers.

An important learning for us is that the installation and setup of the system is not yet as easy as we would like it to be. We noted that customers have a variety of different network configurations in their homes. It is important that our solution takes these into considerations. It is important that the installation and setup of Cozify home automation is simple and does not require any technical expertise.

Cozify pilot program


As this was our first pilot version, some features were not available. Regardless of this, we received positive feedback. I’m proud to share a few:

"I wanted lights in the stairwell that switch on when someone is walking on the stairs. The lights worked to this end as expected. Our one-year-old son was excited about being able to change the colors of the lights."

"One room downstairs has been dedicated for leisure, for example to watch movies and spend time with family or friends without disturbing other family members. As the room does not have any large windows, it is nice to have the lights switch on when someone steps into the room, and switch off again with a delay when there is no one in the room. During the World Cup Football championship games we selected our favorite team's colors into the lights, helping to cheer them on."

"We installed the automatic power control to the fan in our living room. Now I can switch it on or off without needing to get up from the couch."

Despite the pressure during the launch of our pilot, some notable strengths emerged with the very first pilot release: the system is easy to use and it can be controlled using any of the three major smart phone platforms.

We very much appreciated first-hand experiences from our pilot customers. As with any pilot, a few issues emerged which required further investigation, for example:

“The lights turned on in the middle of the night. Perhaps out of their own free will or something?"

“The application doesn’t quite adhere to the phone manufacturers' recommendations. This is something you should look at and consider. By following manufacturer recommendations, you can guarantee that usability across different applications is consistent."

"The Hub needs to be restarted from time to time. Sometimes the software hangs and won't function properly until I restart the hub."

Taking these experiences, we are working on resolving the technical issues, as well as addressing ease of use concerns are at the top of our priority list. Quality and simplicity are key in everything we do.

It has been great to notice, that our home automation system is stable enough, even in this early pilot stage. We are pleased to learn that the solution is easy enough to use in different homes and across various environments. Stay tuned, as we will publish more details on our progress and our pilot program over the coming months.


Check back soon, as the next phase of the pilot will be kicked off later this year. If you would like to participate, please complete the pre-reservation form here. Next pilot group will be chosen among registered users.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Are we crazy enough to change the world?


We are implementing a new, revolutionary home automation service. Our product will wirelessly connect and control the technology and devices in your home.

To create it requires design, software, hardware, communication, customer support, and logistics.  This all inspires us but on the other hand, requires a tremendous amount of work. How is a new product or service born and how does it develop further? How do we build our product?

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.  Steve Jobs

Many practices and methodologies have been proposed especially for start-up companies: Agile methods, Lean Startup, etc. These trendy approaches have a couple of common factors that, together with our own experience, form the basis of our philosophy at Cozify

 Do, learn, and re-do

The worst pitfalls can be avoided through the application of professional skills and reliance on experience. Even so, mistakes happen and we should not be afraid of them. The most important part is to learn and do things better the next time. For example, the first printed 3D model of our hubs plastic case couldnt be considered as a sales version. But we improved the process and the next versions came out much better.

The only thing that persists is change

So we dont get too attached to the things weve made. Instead, our tools and practices have been selected to allow for change. For example, our hub that will sit in users home will be able to automatically download the latest features and bug fixes over the network, so that functioning can be improved as rapidly as possible.

Get your hands dirty

We dont have managers. We are all experts in our own areas, and we do a lot together as well. The CEO works on the technical design, developers participate in discussions about the business model, and everyone takes part in analyzing marketing statistics. Close co-operation requires some effort to mesh different personalities and professional viewpoints. But at its best, successful work done in such a team provides well-balanced results and satisfaction for all participants.

Cozify home automation team

Listen

We are not building this product for ourselves. We are building the best possible home automation service for our customers. So we need to know what they want. During the earliest planning days, we collected feedback by showing our user interface sketches to total strangers in downtown Helsinki. As might be expected, it took some effort to capture the interest of busy passers-by, but we eventually received valuable and encouraging comments and feedback.


More recently we have begun collecting feedback through our discussion forum.  This is a new channel to publish topics and information about home automation and our services. We invite you to contribute and make an impact. Share your thoughts, let us know how youd like home automation to work. Pilot users will have their own section as well.


And of course, please dont hesitate to contact us directly if you happen to be interested in commercial co-operation, working for us, or becoming a pilot customer.

-Kimmo-
Kimmo Ruotoistenmäki is the CEO and one the founders of Cozify Oy

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.