When it comes to convenience, saving on bills, and customising a space to suit their tastes, smart living technologies are increasingly finding a home in the UAE.
Several experts at the Gitex Technology Week 2017 exhibition spoke to Khaleej Times about the latest technologies in the sector and how they can be used to improve a user’s lifestyle.
“We are continuously investing in the digital environment to transform the daily lives of its customers bringing back a value to users of its networks and reliable digital services,” said Dr Ahmed bin Ali, senior vice-president of corporate communications at etisalat.
Etisalat’s theme this year at the event is ‘Driving the Digital Future’, which is part of the company’s overall strategy that aims to integrate the physical world with the digital by paving the way for future life patterns of the people in the UAE.
“At Gitex this year, we have showcased the use of artificial intelligence that lets users experience the future of home automation using the entire bouquet of Etisalat services. The showcase of these futuristic technologies gives the visitors an insight into the smart home ecosystem for consumers and retailers,” Bin Ali said.
Exhibiting at the etisalat smart living station at the event, Ossia took the opportunity to showcase its wireless charging technology. Called Cota, the technology allows for long-range wireless power delivered without cables, batteries, line-of-sight, or charging pads. Put simply, Cota is a charging platform that works with transmitter fitted devices. It charges devices wirelessly by using radio frequency waves. Gavin Cleary, director of technical sales at Ossia, explained that wireless charging had grown in popularity with users over the years.
“In terms of convenience, you need something in your home that won’t clutter the place, especially when it comes to connected devices that need to be charged. What we are showcasing today is a safe and flexible solution that works,” he said. Another exhibitor at the show with a unique product in the outdoor smart living segment was ShadeCraft, which made its Middle East debut at the event. The US startup was showcasing Sunflower – an autonomous robotic shade that tracks the sun and charges itself through solar power.
Armen Gharabegian, founder and CEO of ShadeCraft, said that the company is dedicated to improving human life outdoors. “Sunflower is our feature product which combines megatronics and industrial design. The product is completely autonomous and boasts several features in a very compact design.”
Sunflower also comes with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity that allow for IoT integration. The robot can be controlled remotely with a free mobile application that will be released for both iOS devices and Android OS devices in the near future.
“It is a highly intelligent product that you can speak to; it also offers controlled lighting features and speakers for entertainment options. It is your outdoor hub to control smart products,” Gharabegian said. He noted that he saw an opportunity for the brand’s product in the Middle East, especially given the outdoors environment and plentiful amounts of sunshine.
“We have chosen Dubai as the hub for when we will start in the region. We will release the product for pre-sale in about two months in the US, Europe, and the UAE simultaneously. There has been very high interest in Dubai, and we look forward to customer feedback when we bring our robots here.”
Asked about pricing, Gharabegian noted that the price tag will reflect those of high-end luxury parasols that are available in the market today. “We are aiming to go between $7,000 to $9,000.”
When it comes to necessities that humans can’t live without, Wi-Fi today ranks second on the list after food, says Amanullah Khan, managing director of Linksys, Middle East, Turkey & Africa.
“The expectation is that you have to have Wi-Fi everywhere, every time, and on every device. It has become a necessity that people can’t live without in today’s day and age.”
This is one of the reasons that the Linksys Velop has proven to be so popular across homes in the Middle East. Linksys Velop is a mesh home Wi-Fi solution that extends 100 per cent connectivity to every corner of a user’s home. First launched in March, Linksys is showcasing the triband modular Wi-Fi system at the exhibition.
Khan revealed that users are accepting mesh more widely, as awareness of the technology increases. “Uptake will continue to increase as more and more smart devices enter households. Since we launched in March, the adoption has been six per cent; just from June, the adoption has grown to 15 per cent.”