In the smart home space where many companies are trying to make a name for itself, ZHouse IoT Technology Inc. is doing the opposite. The company brings together innovative technologies from around the world and integrates them to provide a turnkey solution.
ZHouse picks good companies in different fields to work with. For example, it works with Orvibo from China to source smart home products and i-Neighbor from Malaysia to provide smart neighborhood solutions.
The company does not sell individual devices, but a whole ecosystem of devices. Its smart home system has devices like humidifiers, TVs, roller shutters, among others, all from different brands. The devices can be controlled via voice, smartphone or remote. Tmall Genie and Amazon Echo smart speakers are also supported, for Chinese-speaking or English-speaking market, respectively.
The objective is “to make the smart environment more complete” in Taiwan, where ZHouse is based, said the company’s Marketing VP Randy Yeh.
Big companies in Taiwan like Asus, Acer and Quanta Computer have all entered the smart home industry, aiming to establish their own ecosystems. But due to their size, they are not willing to collaborate with others, creating ecosystems that are not complete.
Also, their focus is not on Taiwan’s small market. They mostly aim for the mainland China market. Smart home adoption in Taiwan is just 1%, which is relatively low compared with its neighbors Japan, South Korea and countries in Southeast Asia.
“In an effort to energize Taiwan’s smart home market, ZHouse will localize the cloud, the supply chain, the certification and services,” Yeh said.
ZHouse’s other selling points are competitive price and easy installation. “It’s all wireless and no drilling is required, and our price is so low that even new college graduates can afford it,” Yeh said.
ZHouse’s smart home partner Orvibo from China has received investment from Japanese holding conglomerate SoftBank. Orvibo has sold products to more than 40 countries around the world.
A Capable Smart Lock
Orvibo can enable home automation through its Smart Door Lock T1. When the male homeowner scans his fingerprint to open the door, for example, a scene made for him will be activated, to turn on all the lights from the entryway to the living room, in addition to TV, A/C, etc. When the female homeowner scans her fingerprint, a different automation may be activated, to turn on all the lights from the entryway to the kitchen.
The T1 lock also features the “anti-break-in” mode, allowing homeowners to use a fingerprint from another finger to alert a dangerous situation, like when a family member is being coerced to open the door. Once the fingerprint is scanned, other members of the family and the police will be notified of the entry. “The lock can save lives,” Yeh pointed out
With fingerprint authentication, it may also be set up in such way that when a child arrives home, a notification will be sent to parents. In such way, they will know if their children have not arrived on time.
Passcode is another means of entry. The lock features “virtual code.” The door can be unlocked as long as a set of passcode is keyed in. Users may also key in extra codes before or after the actual passcode to unlock the door, when they are unlocking the door in front of others but don’t want to reveal the passcode.
Homeowners may also set up temporary codes, which may be given to visiting families or for emergencies when there is a gas leak or fire. The temporary code may be set up for one-time entry or multiple entries during a pre-specified period of time. This is useful for people who want to rent out their properties on Airbnb.
The lock may be unlocked via a physical key, which, however, has a unique design and cannot be easily replicated by locksmiths. In addition, the keyhole is located underneath the lock, making it hard to unlock due to the force of gravity.
Vacation Home Solution
ZHouse works mainly with vacation home owners, architects and homebuilders. Cutting down on energy expenses is a priority.
Using the smart lock, devices can turn on automatically after access is granted. Also, there are motion sensor installed indoors, and after 10 minutes of no motion, appliances will be turned off automatically. To prevent the air conditioner from being turned off when guests fall into asleep because of no motion, there is a “sleep mode” button that guests can use to disable the energy-saving functionality. Guest bedtime may also be verified ahead of time, so that the energy-saving functionality will be disabled after the bedtime.