Accumulus Energy Group (AEG), in partnership with US-based Blaze Automation, has launched its B.One Hub in Australia for those unsure if home automation -- or the Internet of Things (IoT) in general -- is all it's hyped up to be.
The B.One Hub allows for the wireless control and energy consumption monitoring of devices in the home, such as light bulbs, air conditioners, and speakers via a smartphone app. It's been customised to the local market, and targeted towards those who are not so tech savvy and living in older housing.
Speaking with ZDNet ahead of the launch, AEG CEO Anup Raghavan said the Hub's open architecture makes it compatible with over 200 devices across different brands and ecosystems. Where an appliance is not already available in B.One's catalogue, the user can also create their own template to control the appliance.
Being a wireless system, the platform can be retro-fitted in homes and rental properties.
Beyond just controlling smart devices via a mobile app, B.One Hub can also provide detailed insights into energy usage and wastage patterns, touted by Raghavan as allowing users to save money on energy bills.
Energy consumption can be monitored via the company's smart sensors that sit in between the device and the power supply. It allows the user to set usage limits and block the use of the device once the threshold has been reached, via the app.
"Turning things on and off wirelessly is not really smart, but turning it on wirelessly when it needs to be on is when it becomes smart," Raghavan said.
"In a B.One smart home or office, automation goes far beyond turning things on and off. The hub is an intelligent partner that helps you gain insights into your home, slash power bills, manage your comfort, take charge of your home security, and even chat with your home through voice-guided automation in real time."
The voice-control system is powered by the Amazon Echo and B.One's VoiceAct platform, allowing the devices connected to the B.One Hub to respond and act to verbal commands
B.One Hub retails at AU$650, and an entry-level B.One Home Starter Kit is AU$1,250. The starter kit consists of one B.One Hub, two smart sensors, and two motion sensors.
Including installation from a certified B.One Smart Home electrician, a fully installed Home Starter Kit for an average home would cost approximately AU$1,500.
"To put it into perspective, a conventional wired hub, to do what the B.One Hub can do, would cost about AU$20,000 to AU$30,000," Raghavan added.
With the IoT space riddled with noise and vendors pushing their platform, Raghavan is banking on B.One Hub's messaging chatbot integration capability -- in addition to its price point -- to win over customers.
"In this era of messenger-based communication platforms, we want to empower users to communicate seamlessly and intuitively with their smart homes, and chatbots can lead the charge in this space," he explained. "You can now live chat with your home using a chatbot ... we believe this is going to revolutionise our entire experience of living and interacting with our homes."
By the end of this year, analyst firm Gartner is expecting 8.4 billion connected devices to be deployed, outnumbering the world's population. By 2020, Gartner is predicting this number will reach 20.4 billion.