According to a research report from MarketsandMarkets, the smart home market is expected to reach US$ 121.73 billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 14.07% between 2016 and 2022. EQL Technology Inc. sees the IoT as a mega trend, and the company enters the industry by providing own-brand products like Ripple for home comfort, convenience and security. The company also provides home security solutions to consumers. The company launched Ripple Control in Taiwan first, and then plans to distribute the products to the other countries in Asia and Eastern Europe. Hsieh sees great growth potential in ASEAN.
Though the smart home has grown exponentially in the recent years, the market penetration remains fairly low. EQL CEO Chester Hsieh thinks a majority of smart home devices are nice to have for consumers up to the present time; while home security devices like smart locks are must-haves. To push the smart home to the masses, he indicated that it’s necessary to make the smart home products to be must-haves instead of nice-to-have items. “The smart light bulb costs more than the traditional one, but it will save more money in the long run. It’s an irresistible trend and that’s why we are confident that the market will be more and more prosperous,” he explained.
Hsieh believes a successful smart home product must be easy to set up and provide added value. EQL plans to launch a set that includes a smart lock and multiple sensors. The lock supports BLE technology. It connects to Ripple Control, a smart home gateway, which can control smart devices like security sensors, smart plug and light bulb, and work with the smart locks. “The smart locks that can manage visitors create more value than the traditional locks,” added Hsieh.
“Smart home automation sounds awesome theoretically, but many people are hesitant to try it out for themselves because they found that smart home products may not so easy to use and set up. Also, I think a good smart home product should be multi-purpose and suitable for different scenarios,” he commented.
Working with E-Life Mall Corporation, the leading retail chain of electronics product in Taiwan, EQL introduced Ripple Control that has created value-added features for home appliances. EQL’s Ripple Control lets users control smart home appliances via IR technology. With the built-in feature, the hub can talk with many appliances, and perform scheduled tasks or event-oriented controls. Besides, the product supports machine learning, providing two-way communication.
Voice Control is the Future
EQL is always willing to accept new technology to add value to its smart home offerings. The company is planning to incorporate voice control into its smart home products. Hsieh said, “Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa and Echo have since become an extremely popular product and service when it comes to voice control. Our product – Ripple, will be compatible with Amazon Echo. Echo has terrific speech recognition capability with robust ecosystem, so it became the first voice services protocol we have implemented into our product.”
The voice control and voice-assisted services are viewed as the new driving force behind smart devices and the connected home. Hsieh believes voice control will be a necessary feature in smart home products. “Since it doesn’t make sense to swipe your phone, open the app, and then touch some buttons to control smart devices because it might take more time. As for the elders, they don’t even have to learn a new technology if they can control anything by just saying some key words to trigger actions,“ Hsieh explained.
In comparison with other voice command technologies, Hsieh thinks AVS is great, but it’s limited in U.S market because of its ecosystem; while, Microsoft Cortana currently lacks of mobility. As for Apple’s HomeKit, Hsieh indicated that hub-less operation makes it more attractive for users. However, the extra cost comes from firmware and software can be a thorny issue.
Besides the hardware, EQL also provides ecommerce service that recommends users of its Ripple products if there is any new air conditioner for the replacement. In addition, healthcare can be a promising segment in the coming years. The company EQL provides PM 2.5 dust detector (detect real-time PM 2.5 particle), air purifier (effectively removes 99 percent of particles), blood pressure monitoring device (manage historical data in cloud services) to address the market need.