SEOUL, South Korea, Feb. 15, 2018 /PRNewswire -- What were once simply niche products for the tech-obsessed, smart home appliances are now being mass-produced and marketed to mainstream consumers. By using these smart home products, mundane household tasks have become easier with voice activation or outright automation. The floodgates have opened, and tech companies are scrambling to give us the next "smart" IoT product. All of this is enormously exciting - not only for the sheer novelty and thrill of being able to speak to our appliances and have them understand, but for the time and (human) energy-saving implications.
But, there's a catch.
With all the different smart products on the market, once the consumer brings the product home, he will often need multiple networking devices and/or apps to bring their products to life. This has resulted in technological fragmentation of the smart home ecosystem, and it is the reason why the smart home market - especially in the US - has yet to truly take off.
CEO, Cheong Yeonkyu of Grib is in the business of providing interconnectivity to heterogeneous IoT devices. They have a proven track record in their partnership with LG U+, with numbers that speak volumes. Thanks to Grib's advanced connectivity hub, LG U+has acquired over a million subscribers. These kinds of numbers would be difficult to attain without faith in their technology, Mr. Cheong stresses. The following is an interview by Julia, an editor at the Korea IT Times, with the CEO of Grib, Cheong Yeonkyu.
Q: Your integrated IoT hub has made quite the headway in Korea's home IoT sector. Can you give me some examples of how your integrated IoT hub can make the home safer?
A: Our Integrated Hub which is based on OneM2M or Alljoyn communication protocol connects to IoT Things and enables device registration, control and connection. The independent IoT Gateway Hub operates on any network service environment and Access Point devices. It connects to IoT Things based on BLE, Z-Wave and ZigBee communication.
For example, when IoT Gas Lock is connected to the Gateway Hub, homeowners are able to remotely control and monitor the gas valve with just a few touches on their mobile devices. Imagine the peace of mind this can give you when you're across town - or out of the country. Also, our IoT system can be used to monitor the premises. Sure you can use CCTVs, but relying solely on CCTVs requires constant recording and monitoring, which can get expensive, especially when you are out of your home for long periods of time. With the IoT system, however, you can attach IoT sensors to your windows for a fraction of the cost. When the window open is detected, your camera is automatically turned on and an alarm message is provided to your mobile phone. Because of such cost-saving measures, a home security companies are looking into this type of technology.
Q: Can you give me some examples of how your integrated IoT hub can be used in the industrial and public sectors?
A: We are working with the City of Seoul, specifically Seoul Children's Grand Park. There, they need to patrol the grounds - every facility needs to do this - but, from the perspective of the park managers, because the grounds are so extensive, they really have no way of knowing whether the inspections were done properly or whether there are any problems with the facilities. With our IoT technology, real-time on-site inspection is possible. When the area is inspected, the content of the inspection - that is, whether the inspection took place and whether the proper inspection procedures were carried out - can be verified by a mobile or web through NFC tags. The solution also enables real-time monitoring of equipment conditions, operating conditions and external environment through various sensors.
Q: Now that you've secured the home sector, which sector(s) are you working towards connecting?
A: We are creating smart buildings such as hotels, transportation, health and lifestyle, security, campus, and environment. For example, our intelligent building system can integrate vital management systems, so that the fire detection system, security system, and network system can be optimized for maximum efficiency and operability. Also, we have embarked on an ICBMS [IoT, Cloud, Big Data, Mobile, Security] Project with the government to apply our "Smart Campus" technology at Hanyang University. We have provided a strengthened security system, congestion monitoring, energy control, and much more through application of 200 sensors throughout the campus. We expect smart classrooms, smart dormitories, smart cafeterias, smart laboratories, and smart street lamps - all with an integrated management system.
Q: Can you give me a specific scenario of how the IoT system can be used outside the home?
A: We see a lot of potential for, say, hotel management. Quality control for room cleaning, for example, would be made easier by using this IoT system so that rooms don't need to be checked individually as they are done now. So those resources can be diverted elsewhere. "Keyless service" could also be possible. We could check in via our smartphones by receiving tags or keys for our rooms on our phones after our identities are authenticated.
Q: How much of a factor does security play as you try to apply your hub to various services and products?
A: Security is a huge factor. Research has shown that roughly 50% of people are still suspicious about IoT products due to security concerns. We take this very seriously. For this reason, we have gone to great lengths to test and re-test our systems. Our IoT hub went through six months of meticulous LG U+ testing, which was carried out in every imaginable context and situation. For example, Korean people enjoy eating bone broth soup, but making it is usually done in very large quantities over the course of a day, requiring constant attention so the pot doesn't boil over. Invariably, it does boil over, and we even simulated this scenario to see how our system would be affected. I am very pleased - and confident - with the results of all of those tests over the period of 6 months. We are the only company in the world with over a million subscribers (in partnership with LG U+). I think this number speaks for itself. Security is the number one issue for everyone - if our system didn't offer security, attaining one million subscribers would be impossible.
Q: South Korea is outpacing other countries in the IoT sector, and one of the reasons is because your company has provided a solution to the connectivity issue. The United States is having a difficult time gaining traction, namely because of this connectivity issue. Do you think you can apply your solution in Korea to the United States, especially with security concerns there?
A: IoT doesn't require a lot of data. It requires connection only for packet data. This means that the technology required is different depending on the coverage. Right now, we utilize near-field communication, and for what we want to achieve, it is sufficient. Also, in the US, we wouldn't be providing direct service. We would be providing our IoT solutions and software to local security companies - just the devices and platform.
Q: What are some of the biggest obstacles in connecting the devices/services in the public sector?
A: Connectivity in the public sector would greatly improve efficiency and save costs over the long term. We see it providing a very useful public service as well, in terms of being able to monitor the health and safety of the very young or the very elderly, as well as those who require constant care due to developmental disorders. Our IoT sensors can be applied to these persons, to notify their caregivers of movement - or lack of movement - as well as their vital signs. This technology could ease the economic burdens of many families and provide much needed relief in terms of peace of mind but it is not easy for families to jump into this technology. Government subsidies for our technology for these and other families would help.