Argentine entrepreneur developing low-cost home automation system
Argentine Lucas Funes designed a home automation system for his final project when he was studying electronics in 2004, but it ended up going far beyond that. The project became a focus for EnOrbitas, a local incubator, and he launched a start-up with his brother Gonzalo in his garage. After trying out various technologies, the two presented Go Live Home last year, a combination of Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud-based software to create “smart homes”.
“Technology has become so simple that users will purchase the plug & play equipment at the store and install it in their house to — all at a cost less than fifteen times of what is in the market today,” said Funes from his garage. Using an antenna connected to a computer or an Android tablet or phone, the system, still in beta, automatically identifies each device present in the home and uploads the information to a program hosted on the Internet. To program the system, the user will need to enter the site and assign each unit with simple drags and drops. Since Android support it, users can even make voice commands. Among the features being developed are on and off remote device and automatic controls for environmental or energy management, among others.
To achieve a mix of applications at reasonable costs, Funes’ strategy was open source. He settled on ZigBee, a communications standard released in 2007 by the alliance of the same name, which has in recent years become a paradigm for the M2M Internet. According to a study from ABI Research, Zigbee represented 40% of shipments of IEEE 802.15.4 chipsets in 2010 and are expected to make up 60% in 2016. Its advantages? Low cost, very little energy usage, adaptability and the ability to create mesh networks.
For its part, the company has developed its own instruction set, firmware, a protocol for communications between devices with 64-bit encryption, and the central open-source program which is hosted in Linux servers to operate in the form of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) with the advantages that this implies: fast and low cost implementation and maintenance. But the Argentines promise not to stand still. To accelerate its entry into the market, the company decided it will release the chipset architecture so that any manufacturer can incorporate the devices into their products.