The idea of IoT can be daunting as it’s evolving and the HVAC community still figuring out its role. LUX Director of Product Development, Gary Hsieh, gave us his perspective of the future of IoT, security and where it fits in today.
- The Internet of things (IoT) are trending. What are some technologies you are utilizing in your new residential products?
LUX is leveraging the popularity of voice assistants in the home as our latest WiFi thermostat LUX KONO Smart Pro Edition connects with the three major services; Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomeKit. Homeowner adoption for smart products has risen over the past 12 months and continues to do so with the emergence of these voice assistant platforms. As consumers continue to take advantage of IoT, these technologies as well as other web technologies and various data sources will become more important in product development.
- What are most popular and why?
As a smart thermostat manufacturer, we continue to focus on different technologies that make the customer experience better. Screen technology and display interfaces are clearly at the forefront. It’s important for us to offer products that are easy to use and easily integrate with in-home platforms such voice assistants, security, etc. Many smart thermostats also have an app which duplicates the features on the device, making it easy for the user to manage home comfort remotely or in-home.
Additional features have also been added to the smart thermostat that map to user’s behavior. For example, the LUX Home and Away Aware™ feature automatically adjusts the temperature to a personally selected preference when leaving or entering the home by simply setting a custom radius on the LUX mobile app.
- As technology continues to evolve, where does that leave the future of your HVAC residential products?
HVAC manufactures overall are becoming more customer centric. It’s more about the experience and the user interaction with products than on the actual problem of heating or cooling. For us, we are expanding beyond just the traditional role of the thermostat and looking into how we can influence the home comfort experience for homeowners. We’re looking at our R&D effort from an experience and control perspective and technology is definitely helping us drive that. Technology offers as a solution to answering the needs of our users. Technology and connectivity is continuously driving more changes to the HVAC residential product lines.
- With hackers on the rise, how are you handling security and privacy vulnerabilities with home automation products?
Security is ongoing for any company regardless of industry. It’s really a part of the overall quality of the product and needs to be an integral part of the development and release process. To help deliver quality and security to our customers, we partner with trustworthy organizations in hardware and web/cloud technologies. Then we integrate levels of security measures into our end-to-end solution. Finally, we have continuous 3rd
-party vulnerability sessions that stresses new and emerging areas of attack to ensure on going levels of security.
- How do you convince people to pay a little bit more money for a smart product versus a traditional one? What are your selling points?
With any new purchase, there must be a clear value proposition to the purchaser and this value needs to go beyond the existing product or the traditional way a product is being used. LUX KONO Smart’s value proposition is that it is obvious and easy to use on the wall with our aluminum control knob, it looks great and can match any décor with our changeable décor-snap covers. Plus, you can add it to almost any smart home platform – all for a market-leading price point.
- Is the HVAC industry truly ready to embrace the IoT, or is there a sense of trepidation and concern regarding the technology’s staying power and long-term viability?
There probably is a mix of both. In the end, the organizations that understand customers’ expectations and problems are the ones that will have the long-term viability. Technology is a component of molding the product and/or services. All successful groups will adapt to any necessary technology.
- How do your products save energy because they utilize technology?
The ability to promote schedule settings in a clear and intuitive way is the most meaningful measure of saving energy. Using the LUX Mobile App, scheduling is intuitive and most users get that, thus they have a desire to set their schedule and can see the immediate impact. Providing advance features in a user-friendly format like GeoFencing, or as we call it at LUX, Home and Away Aware™, helps to increase energy savings, as well. Geofencing offers a radius feature that automatically adjusts to savings settings when you move outside your set radius and resets to comfort when you re-enter.
And finally, providing interactive messaging that helps the homeowner make the best decision also enforces energy saving measures. For instance, we offer a Smart Tips feature as part of the LUX App. The Smart Tips features automatically sends seasonal tips on ways to help save energy. The features offer general tips as well as proactive suggestions based on the user’s behavior on how to best save money and be energy efficient. These year-round recommendations help consumers manage their wallet and energy usage.
- How do your products sync with mobile devices? Is this a major perk to customers?
Our products sync with mobile devices on a periodic basis. This type of constant interaction minimizes battery usage, increases security and is necessary to provide the user with a responsive experience that they expect.
- How are customer expectations changing as the IoT market evolves with HVAC residential home automation products?
Homeowners expect that their devices are easier to use, have multiple interfaces and provide them with a higher degree of comfort and energy savings. LUX KONO Smart Pro Edition has an easy-to-use knob that is obvious and simple for control and our mobile app has access to the more sophisticated controls.
- What does the residential contractor need to know about residential home automation products such as yours and why should they be selling and installing them? What are the major benefits to the contractor?
The key to understanding the HVAC role in home automation and smart products is to understand that you don’t need to be everything to everyone. Contractors have to define and communicate their boundaries. There will be times when the thermostat won’t work, but it won’t because there’s an issue in the HVAC system, it will be because an Internet connection is broken.
One area where the HVAC professional can help, is to understand how the smart device, like a thermostat, works and to educate the home owner on how to use it or the app that supports it. This starts with the HVAC professional being educated on the products in their portfolio.
LUX has a highly-skilled team of technicians available to answer contractor questions. Technicians working out of our Philadelphia, PA headquarters are level 1 & 2 certified and the on-staff technical supervisors are available to troubleshoot the exceptions. Our team of developers is supported by future-thinking product engineers whose task is to watch current trends in HVAC as well as smart products and home automation to ensure the latest customer demands and emerging technologies are captured and delivered in our current and future products. Our investment in product development stems from our understanding and insight into the HVAC market.