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

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.