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Why Infrared will still be important for Smart Home

When it comes to Smart Home, many advanced users made an attempt to rewire their home, install the latest wireless doorbell and cameras and may even invest in one of those connected kennel feeder. This is great for a growing and emerging industry as predicted by many consumer research companies. I do think smart home tech will go to the mass market, especially with the proliferation of the low cost AI speakers like Alexa Echo and Google Home. Afterall, taking innovations in consumer electronics to the mass will take time. Take Apple as an example, we wouldn't have today's smartphone industry if Apple didn't invested into their Newton PDA back in 1993, for which only one million units were sold.

Most of the modern smart home ecosystems have not reached the mass market because of the need for connecting to the broadband network with a gateway. This is distinctively different from what Sony did with their Walkman, and like what Apple did with their iPod - these devices could work standalone without a network.

On the contrary, the difference Amazon's Alexa Echo series and Google's Home series of voice assisted AI speakers have done to smart home is phenomenal. It is truly Blue Ocean Strategy of entering home without a need to create a gateway (Eliminate). It creates an additional input channel or use case (Create). It reduces the cost of expensive AI in exchange for big data. Every items in Bestbuy and mass retailers, e-tailers now will bundle their consumer electronics appliances with a AI speaker for the sake of saying "We can automate your ......."

Looking ahead, this is exciting. But one should not forget that our home still have many consumer electronics that uses handheld infrared (IR) remote controllers and this trend is not going away any time soon. In fact, with the increasing sales of AI speakers, the trend to connect to the large installed base of consumer electronics (i.e. legacy IR equipment) becomes even more important. This is where we believe the last mile connectivity via an efficient IR Fabric is important.

Connecting our entertainment unit, TV, Roku, fan, air conditioners and set top box at home and solving a problem now becomes a great opportunity for startups.


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