ViewQwest to offer smart home set-ups

ViewQwest to offer smart home set-ups

Using your voice to turn on the lights or the TV at home, or to open the front gate remotely from a smartphone app, is no longer expensive or a hassle to set up.

Such "smart home" set-ups now come with standard fibre broadband subscriptions from local service provider ViewQwest as it makes a play for the home automation market here.

ViewQwest will help home owners set up their smart homes for free when they buy a fibre broadband line, which starts from $65 a month for a 1Gbps plan.

It is also selling smart home devices that are now not on sale here, or are not being shipped to Singapore from e-tailers such as Amazon.

One example is the Amazon Echo, which allows lights and televisions to be turned on or off with a voice command.

Vignesa Moorthy, chief executive officer of ViewQwest, sees the effort as a "natural extension" of its current fibre broadband business.

"There is a new breed of smart home products that you can remotely control over the Internet. These devices also work best when they work together (over) a high-speed Internet connection," he said.

Besides the Amazon Echo, the devices include the Philips Hue lighting system, Ubiquiti UniFi surveillance cameras and Arlo motion-sensing cameras - which are all being sold by ViewQwest.

The company is also selling the Belkin WeMo switch that allows any conventional appliance, including a lamp or fan, plugged to it to be controlled via a smartphone app.

"The market is very fragmented. There is no one manufacturer for everything. So how do you bring all these devices together to make them work?" said Mr Moorthy.

Installation requires a level of technical know-how and is, so far, limited to hobbyists.

This is where ViewQwest hopes to come in and play a part. "We want to be an early player in this greenfield business," he said.

Central to its home automation drive is assigning a fixed Internet protocol (IP) address to every fibre broadband customer.

This is not the usual practice of traditional broadband service providers, which assign home users IP addresses that change randomly.

ViewQwest is also talking to property developers to install smart home devices and sensors in new properties to, say, alert security guards of gas leaks in any unit. Mr Moorthy declined to provide details.

Teacher Kelvin Su, 25, said he likes the idea of going to just one service provider for help on any Internet or smart home installations. He is looking to automate some electronic appliance functions at his new flat in Punggol.

"I cannot imagine having to figure things out myself," said Mr Su, who is a fan of the Amazon Echo.

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