Although the concept of smart home is still in the early stages of development in China, several companies – from e-commerce giant Alibaba to consumer electronics Haier – are placing big bets on the domestic smart home market. According to Juniper Research, China’s connected home market will likely expand to US$22.8 billion by 2018.
Shenzhen Heiman Technology Co., Ltd, a Shenzhen-based smart home and alarm system manufacturer, has got its finger on the pulse of the burgeoning industry since 2013. However, it was only when push came to shove that things came to materialize after 2014, Heiman Vice President Jenny Liu told SMAhome.
“We started the smart home in 2013, but we picked up steam in the last two years after we invested heavily in both human resources and hardware,” Liu said.
The vice president thinks the smart home landscape has undergone drastic changes in the past few years, and especially in the last year.
“In 2013, smart home products were only smart in the sense that they could talk to each other, but consideration for user experience was lacking in general; in 2014, the market was chaotic with many players and many protocols, but there was no clear direction for development; in 2015, major international brands began to enter the play with clear development plans and strict requirements for their products, and this will certainly help propel the market.”
Heiman currently offers reliable smart home systems and accessories based on ZigBee, Z-Wave and Wi-Fi technologies. Z-Wave was incorporated into the mix last year, a move that Liu said has been to meet the demand of North American consumers.
The company started mass producing its smart home system for DIY users under the brand “Hismart” last year, and has witnessed a spurt in export sales in the U.S., the Middle East and Europe, including the U.K., Germany, Norway and Poland. Liu shared that besides the optimistic sales growth, the company has also received positive customer feedback on the products.
“Our business model is mostly based on importers, who then channel our products and services to telecommunication companies, supermarkets, and real estates companies for example.”
According to Liu, product reliability is of high propriety for Heiman – before any products can be released to the market, they go through several rounds of testing and be trialed among the developers, project managers and clients for feedback and improvement.
When asked if Heiman plans to include project-based services to its existing DIY business model, Liu told SMAhome that it plans to launch a new series of customized solutions in August this year.
With regards to views on the future of smart home, Liu thinks that for the home to be truly smart, the industry will have to move towards having one standardized app for all the devices, where the app is likely developed by a giant in the space.
“For the interest of consumers, a ‘standardized app’ is needed to consolidate different software from different suppliers, a role which I believe the big boys can come to play. Today, there are already unlimited numbers of smart home apps flooding the online app store,” Liu exclaimed, adding that it will only confuse users even more as they juggle between a myriad of apps by various providers.
As the demand for smart technology continues to rise, customers have become increasingly picky and demanding when looking for smart products.
“Domestic and international customers alike now demand more from manufacturers – they look at not just the hardware capabilities of a product but also its software capabilities, data security and interoperability,” she said.
“At Heiman, we are doing everything we can to satisfy the demands of our customers.”