- Title: Tech firm in Singapore allows you to text your appliances
- Date: 15th March 2017
- Summary: SCREEN SHOWING DEMONSTRATION OF COMMAND SENT, AND LIGHT BEING TURNED ON IN HOME SCREEN SHOWING DEMONSTRATION OF COMMAND SENT, AND AIR CONDITIONER BEING TURNED ON
- Embargoed: 29th March 2017 10:18
- Keywords: tech firm Singapore text appliances whatsapp Unified Inbox
- Location: SINGAPORE
- City: SINGAPORE
- Country: Singapore
- Topics: Science
- Reuters ID: LVA002682L1FX
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:In today's so-called smart home, you can dim the lights, order more toothpaste or tell the kids to go to bed simply by talking to a small Wifi-connected speaker, such as Amazon's Echo or Google's Home.
But not everyone thinks the future of communicating with the Internet of Things needs to be vocal.
Several major appliance-makers have turned to a small Singapore firm, Unified Inbox, which offers a service that can handle ordinary text messages and pass them on to appliances.
With your home added to the contacts list on a messaging app like WhatsApp, a quick text message can "start the coffee machine"; "turn on the vacuum cleaner at 5 p.m."; or "preheat the oven to 200 degrees at 6.30 p.m."
"It's quite fun actually, if you look at your Whatsapp list, for example, or your Viber, or your Telegram right, so see that here, I was texting with my wife, with my family, and this is my vacuum cleaner. It becomes quite personable, likeable, so the device becomes an avatar of the brand," Ruckert said, adding: "By the way, this is something manufacturers love -- they have distributers, but they never have contact to the end consumer. In this case, they can finally talk to the end consumer directly."
Unified Inbox connects the devices on behalf of the manufacturer, while the consumer can add their appliance by messaging its serial number to a special user account or phone number. It so far supports more than 20 of the most popular messaging apps, as well SMS and Twitter, and controls appliances from ovens to kettles. Other home appliances being tested include locks, garage openers, window blinds, toasters and garden sprinklers, says Ruckert.
The company is just a small player, funded by private investors, but Ruckert says its technology is patent-backed, has been several years in the making, and has customers that include half of the world's smart appliance makers, such as Bosch.
For those who often have problems with vocal command systems, Unified Inbox offers a welcome alternative.
"I don't like to use my voice, because sometimes they may detect the wrong thing. Like, for example, Google: sometimes you say something, then they will do something else, so it might interpret the wrong thing, so with texting you can see, and you can send first, so it's more accurate," said a Singaporean who gave her first name Kamsinah, 22.
Ruckert is also working with Singapore's Nanyang Polytechnic to send updates to family members or staff direct from hospital equipment attached to patients.
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