In year 2016, Somfy Thailand has acquired iHome, the leading smart home integrator in the country. SMAhome had an interview with Olivier Gibert, General Manager of Somfy Thailand Co., Ltd to share his insights on the smart home market development and popular products in Thailand.
1. Please give us some background info of Somfy and iHome Thailand
Somfy from France has been specialized in home automation products for 50 years, and started its business in Thailand 11 years ago. As the branch office, Somfy Thailand carries the branded products in the country.
Before being acquired, iHome was one of Somfy Thailand’s pioneering customers. iHome specializes in system design, automation and electrical design, installation and software development for the residential sector. We have worked with many brands like Bticino, Legrand, Bosch and of course Somfy. Up to date, iHome, as the business unit of system integration within Somfy Thailand, still works with these brands, while keeping the exclusivity of Somfy in the motorized curtain control.
2. How do iHome’s customers benefit from the merge with Somfy?
After the integrating iHome with Somfy Thailand, iHome can achieve longer sustainability for the customers. Especially for big projects, the intelligent quality control and IoT connection is highly regarded. By merging with the international business entity, iHome can better meet customers’ requirement and provide consistent service. And the merge helps to make customer more confidence on their cooperation with us.
And this is not only Thailand. iHome’s merge with Somfy radiate to all southeast Asian markets, such as Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, where iHome has their strong foothold.
3. How’s the smart home market in Thailand? What are the driving factors in this market?
The smart home market in Thailand is growing every year. Many customers are still unsure about what they want for their homes, but they are gaining more interests in smart homes than two or three years ago. Somfy and iHome are able to provide professional information and suggestions for them. The market is driven by evolution, and our company can provide innovation and new functionalities. The market is not mature yet, so now the designers, manufacturers and investors are directly investing into Thai market.
4. Who are your major customers now? What products and systems are popular in Thai market?
Somfy and iHome work with property developers, condominiums, hotels, service apartments and real estate companies. We are offering customized smart home solution to top five property developers in Thailand and other high-end project owners by now.
From our experience, the smart controlling systems for light, air-conditioning or air quality that relate to living experiences, are the most popular items nowadays in Thailand. And then goes to home security products like alarm system and home cameras. On the contrary, the energy management products are not yet popular now because of the cheap power in Thailand. Also, with the need of monitoring of children, the elders and people with disabilities, home security is important for their families.
5. What protocols are popular in Thailand? And what new products Somfy will showcase at SMAhome Thailand 2017?
For the multiple wireless protocol options, we think each protocol having its pros and cons. For example, Bluetooth is suitable for short communications, so the gateway using Bluetooth can be apply in small apartment, but a larger house might need another. The key is to be able to integrate them seamlessly according to the application scenarios.
We tend to use different protocols in one project, whether it is wireless or wired. For example, in a project, we can use Wi-Fi connection for the cameras, Z-Wave or Zigbee for sensors, VRV for air-conditioners (multi-split type air conditioner for commercial buildings) and some other communication protocols for lighting control.
At SMAhome Thailand 2017, Somfy will highlight voice-control smart home system. We use Apple Siri to realize the vocal command solution, as Amazon Alexa has limited language support for Thai.
Go to the show website here.