One way or another, many of us already have an element of a smart home, be it connecting your Alexa to your lighting system so you can perform voice commands, a digital fingerprint lock, etc.
Unless you have commissioned a company to design your smart home with their own devices, there is a possibility that many of your smart home devices come from different brands and run on different software.
That would mean you would have multiple apps to run the various devices, and that's what Gary Low wants to do with his company, LinkUp. He developed a system that is able to connect multiple intelligent devices to be controlled via a single app, eliminating the hassle mentioned above.
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Gary started his idea for LinkUp in 2018 after realizing that smart devices from different brands couldn't work together. It spoiled the user experience for him because he couldn't build a unified intelligent system to automate his smart devices.
"For example, I couldn't use my Xiaomi door sensor to trigger my Philips smart lightbulb," Gary told Vulcan Post. "I also had to use multiple apps to control and monitor my home, which was inconvenient."
As a frequent business traveler, his wife was often home alone. So he not only wanted to combine all of his intelligent devices in one app, but also an improved house alarm system. This is how LinkUp was launched in 2019.
An app for controlling a house
Of course, LinkUp's remote monitoring system is no different from others on the market that offer similar functionality. The startup stands out with its LinkUp Hub, a control center for managing all smart home devices, including security systems.
A LinkUp SmartHub device / Photo credit: LinkUp
To do this, his LinkUp SmartHub device connects to a router via WiFi and you can connect up to 300 devices to the SmartHub via WiFi, Zigbee or Bluetooth. Once linked, users can use LinkUp's app to control and interact with all configured devices.
Did you know already: Zigbee is a low-cost, low-power, wireless mesh network standard for battery-powered devices in wireless control and monitoring applications.
It integrates various devices through the open APIs provided by these appliances. Regardless of the brand, users can control their devices through the LinkUp app.
Screenshots of the LinkUp app / Photo credits: LinkUp
API stands for an application program interface. It enables different software programs to interact with each other. It has become commonplace for companies to provide open APIs that allow other software to interact with their data and processes through these APIs.
Since the startup is still in its infancy, the LinkUp team will help set up the SmartHub with the customer's devices. “We're working on giving users the ability to set up the integration themselves,” added Gary.
LinkUp is by no means the first to create a control center for the devices of a smart home. The Xiaomi subsidiary Aqara and Xiaomi Mijia also have similar solutions, but seem to mainly support devices within the brand's ecosystem.
Gary explained that while the SmartHub has a list of devices that are supported out-of-the-box, if a device or brand is not on that list, customers can ask the LinkUp team to develop the integration for it.
Sell more than one device
LinkUp is currently able to sell its SmartHub to the masses as a standalone, but instead of just selling the device, the team is trying to sell its services as a package alongside it. These services include advice, installation and customization, starting at RM 1,288 depending on the complexity of the request.
This allows LinkUp to build its own systems in the home, from lighting and door locks to entertainment and security systems. The team can work with individual homeowners but is currently focused on partnering with real estate development companies.
Publisher's Note: Parts of the above paragraphs have been revised to reflect greater factual accuracy of the statement.
LinkUp was one of the top 5 winners of the Selangor Accelerator Program 2020 / Photo credit: LinkUp
As a result, the team has so far succeeded in installing their smart home systems in 10 renovation projects in districts such as Damansara Utama and Sri Hartamas. In 2021, they expect sales growth of 100% as they have managed to partner with IOI Properties to integrate their LinkUp Hub into upcoming developments.
But they do not yet rule out the consumer market. Gary has expressed interest in introducing subscription service for its security systems in the fourth quarter of this year. He hopes it will lower the barrier to entry for more consumers to take advantage of the convenience that smart homes offer.
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It wouldn't be wrong to say that a smart home is a luxury (of convenience), and many like me still agree to save money by doing things in normal, everyday ways.
In a certain way, LinkUp's customer base is smaller, but the partnership with developers gives the startup more security in sales. Real estate is a competitive landscape and developers want a unique selling proposition for their real estate that LinkUp can offer.
However, LinkUp would have to proceed strategically with these collaborations, as demographics and location play a role in whether a homeowner wants a smart home at all, along with the associated maintenance and costs.
That being said, LinkUp's track record of working with upscale property suggests that the company knows its target market and is actively doing something to reach it.
- Learn more about LinkUp here.
- You can find out more about other Malaysian startups we've covered here.
Photo credit: Gary Low, LinkUp CEO