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Household brands venture into smart devices segment

New Delhi: Jhinuk Sen, a resident of Delhi, uses her smart speaker to turn on the lights in her room, set alarms, play music and more. She is among those users in India who have purchased Amazon’s Echo speakers in the past three years. But while the traditional smart home market here comprises of companies such as Xiaomi, Amazon and Google, conventional household brands are also making their presence felt in this lucrative market that caters to millennial tastes.

For instance, Hero Electronix (the Hero Group’s venture into the electronics space) announced its own smart home products this past week. While the company has been operational for four years now, this is its first venture into the consumer Internet of Things (IoT) or smart home market. “We never thought four years ago that we would enter the consumer technology space,” said Ujjwal Munjal, founder-director of Hero Electronix.

According to Munjal, the company realized the country had talent that would help the company develop solutions for the consumer technology market. Its smart indoor camera is not just “Alexa-enabled”, it has the assistant built inside. So, you can give commands to the camera directly instead of using an Echo speaker or other Alexa-enabled products to use it. Hero Electronix foresees an investment of .150-200 crore in its IoT business over the next couple of years. The company will be selling products in India under the Qubo brand.

Similarly, Havells—known for its appliances, ceiling fans and other home products—recently showcased a smart ceiling fan called Enticer Smart, which is part of the company’s IoT product portfolio. The fan connects to Wi-Fi, has a dedicated mobile application and supports voice commands via Alexa and Google Assistant.

Hindware, best known for its sanitaryware in the country, is also entering the smart home space with water purifiers, air purifiers and more products that will have ‘smart’ features. “We have adopted a dual strategy wherein we will continue to address the mass market of consumers through our traditional line up of products, while our R&D team continues to develop experimental lines of smart products that target early adopters,” said Rakesh Kaul, chief executive of Somany Home Innovation Ltd, the consumer product arm of Hindware.

Other than these brands, Philips was one of the first companies to start selling its own line of smart lighting solutions under its Hue brand. Companies like Wipro and Syska have also made lights that can be operated remotely or via voice.

According to the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Smart Home Device Tracker, released in March 2019, the global smart home market is expected to grow to 1.6 billion devices by 2023. India plays a major role in this, being one of the biggest consumer markets in the world today.

The smart home market in India is also being driven by real-estate and hospitality companies which have been using such products in their establishments. Various hotels have put Amazon’s Echo products in rooms, while real-estate companies are offering smart home solutions in residential buildings to increase their value.

That said, experts think the market still needs some standardisation. “The smart home market in India is still siloed and consumers have to download too many apps to control different products (in their home),” said Hanish Bhatia, senior analyst, Counterpoint Research.

According to Bhatia, while companies have been using Google and Amazon’s assistants to bring some standardisation, there’s still work to be done. Both the voice assistants allow consumers one central hub (an Amazon Echo or Google Nest type device) to control all their smart home devices.

“The consumer side of the IoT segment focuses on smart lighting etc. We expect there will be a big push from Reliance Jio, which will help in establishing standards in this industry. Once we see this standardisation, we will see more penetration in the market,” Bhatia added.

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Range of smart home products in India

Avells Enticer Smart Fan

Havells’ ceiling smart fan can be controlled via a smartphone through a dedicated app, or Alexa, or Google Assistant.

Qubo Smart Indoor Camera

It’s the first indoor camera in India that’s ‘Alexa-enabled’. It allows users to directly give voice commands to the camera.

Wipro Smart Lights

Wipro has an array of smart lights that it sells in the country. They support Google and Amazon’s voice assistant.

Syska Smart Lights

Syska entered the smart light segment quite a while back, and has been selling appliances in India for some time now.

Source: Livemint