SiMPNiC, a sub-brand of Connection Technology Systems Inc. (CTS), was officially unveiled at the end of 2017 to focus on providing Internet of Things (IoT) services that enable home automation and home security.
While CTS’s expertise lies in fiber optic network solutions, it has invested in IoT research and development for the past two to three years. The SiMPNiC brand was then born as a result.
The SiMPNiC solution centers on a Z-Wave gateway that connects to different sensors and other IoT devices at home to provide home automation, home safety, smart healthcare and home security, the company said.
The company offers two gateways. The S1 model is made for professional installers and do-it-yourself use cases. It connects to Wi-Fi and the gateway has two buttons to enable automation for up to 10 scenes. The X1 model is made for service providers like security companies. Because of higher security requirement, the gateway has no Wi-Fi connectivity and has to rely on Ethernet connection. It does support 3G/4G dongles, however.
As an experienced network provider, CTS knows how to ensure connection security. And SiMPNiC is able to leverage this competitive advantage. Its IoT solution is “open but secure,” said Jack Tsai, Director of SiMPNiC’s IoT Business Unit. The gateway’s API is available so that integration with clients’ back-end systems can be completed easily. At the same time, the gateway uses the 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard.
Besides its own gateway, CTS offers professional advices on sensor selection for different applications – based on CTS’s study of sensors on the market – to provide an integrated solution. “What users may need to enhance convenience and effectiveness of their life comes first to us,” said Vivian Huang, CTS’s Assistant Manager of Branding Strategy Center.
CTS’s main clients consist of system integrators, and the company offers flexible applications custom-made for various customers in Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai, the U.S. and countries in Europe.
CTS wants to focus on applications and not products, and to provide total solutions to satisfy clients’ demand, Huang added. The buy-and-sell business model is less likely to succeed, and it’s better to have a whole ecosystem, said Tony Lin, Senior Manager of IoT Business Unit at CTS.
Experience plays a big part in Z-Wave implementation, Lin said. In fact, there has not been many installations. “However, those who have more installation experience will be able to do it more easily over time.”
Security and monitoring are the most common application in North America when it comes to IoT application. Automation and energy management are the focus in Europe, but applications have also shifted to security in the wake of refugee crisis in recent years, Tsai said.
CTS has passed the stringent Z-Wave certification process for its gateway products. All Z-Wave products need to be certified, so that products of different vendors can all sync together. Z-Wave is therefore referred as “the most interoperable” smart home/IoT protocol to some people. “We invested a lot of effort and money to get our gateway certified,” Lin said.
Interoperability also means constraints, according to Lin. The certification process can take 1-3 months, and R&D personnel need to be debriefed overseas at least once, he said. Also, the firmware cannot be changed after obtaining certification. It means no correction can be made even if a bug was found later. This could create a lot of pressure for vendors.
The similar low-power protocol Zigbee is a looser standard compared with Z-Wave. As such, the merit is that Zigbee products can enjoy faster time to market. The demerit is that Zigbee products can’t always talk to one another. “It’s like after succeeding connecting two people on the phone line, one speaks Mandarin while the other one speaks Cantonese, so it’s not exactly interoperable,” Lin said.
Zigbee was created earlier than Z-Wave. There are cheaper sensors using the Zigbee protocol, and they have been applied in many industrial settings. Many companies in China are using Zigbee.