Sramana Mitra: It is not clear to me why I would want to control a washer or dryer remotely.
Rahul Patel: If you put your clothes in the dryer and leave your home, normally you won’t know if your clothes are dry until you come home. Maybe you need to turn another cycle on to dry your clothes. You are able to do both things remotely – you can get an assessment of whether your clothes are dry, and if you need to turn the cycle on again, you can do it. That adds to productivity.
SM: It is not very often that you need to turn on a second cycle.
RP: That depends. You may be an expert user. But there are times where people walk away and then they need to turn on another cycle. This data comes from consumers. Not all clothes dry the same way, and sometimes they get done and sometimes they don’t get done.
SM: In my entire life I very rarely have had to turn on a dryer cycle twice. This is why it is very difficult for me to relate to putting expensive functionality into that product. Either way, the discussion is relevant because we have heard about the Internet of Things for a while, and that category has not taken off from a consumer adoption standpoint. In industrial machinery there is a much bigger adoption of the Internet of Things. Can you comment on that?
RP: Before I comment on that, let me bring up something that we talked about that I don’t agree with, which is about expensive functionality. The cost of putting in connectivity is not as expensive as you may think. The cost of connectivity is less than $10 for a completely implemented subsystem. Appliance manufacturers suggest that it is a lot more valuable than traditional functions such as the on/off button. Other appliances that are also coming into play and are very valuable are air conditioning and heating subsystems. A lot of people in the Bay Area don’t care about those things, but people who live in places where there are more temperature extremes love to remotely control their homes before they get into them.
SM: I think that is a better use case because sometimes you forget to turn on the heating or the air conditioning. What about the industrial category? What do you see there?
RP: It is all tied to the same implementation. Across all appliances we see the same thing. The industry category is very broad. It is used in logistics normally, but there is also the question of tracking things in shelves and stores, tracking manufacturing, etc.
SM: How much of that is happening at the moment?
RP: A lot of those things are happening already with proprietary wireless technologies. They are all moving to standard-based wireless technologies that ultimately can be managed day-to-day through our more easily available tablet platforms.