“Technology should make life easy for us. It should work without us having to deal with it,” says Amir Humanfar. The brothers Ali Reza and Amir Humanfar founded HUM Systems together in Berlin in 2017. Their mission: the democratization of smart living. It should be so simple that everyone with the technology can get along with it, making life easier for every user.
Karl Kramer, 52 from Berlin (name changed by the editor), for example, not only uses the Livy Alive to monitor his holiday apartment on Mallorca. He has installed another station for his now frail mother since she first fell in her apartment.
An intelligent algorithm also recognizes deviations from normal behavior. When old Frau Kramer's phase of activity, which ends in the middle of the room, is followed by a long phase of inactivity, Livy Alive alerts the son. He can use the app to check on the built-in camera. When in doubt, Karl Kramer can use the integrated sound system – a cooperation with the well-known speaker manufacturer Teufel – to ask whether everything is actually in order. If a smoke detector goes off at his mother's - or in the holiday home - Kramer Junior receives an alarm.
Because the algorithm in Livy Alive recognizes conventional smoke detectors nearby. When they trigger, the box sends an alarm. "This is how we make smoke detectors smart," explains developer Reza Humanfar.
The brothers started their company in Berlin in 2017 with the Livy brand, an intelligent smoke detector and the European electricity supplier Vattenfall as a major customer in the background.
With his background in the media industry, Amir takes care of the user experience. He is the storyteller who makes sure that the benefit is in the foreground and that the highly complex technical products that his brother Reza develops are associated with positive emotions for the users. What marketing specialist Amir calls the feel-good experience.
“The entire topic of smart home and smart living is far too complex for normal consumers,” sums up the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer): Too many connectivity standards. Too many technical details. Poorly matched hardware and software. Elaborate installation. All of this is incomprehensible to users.
That's why the HUM team doesn't think in terms of sensors, but in terms of applications: A combination sensor that also monitors the humidity makes it possible to prevent mold growth. A very interesting option for holiday home owners like Karl Kramer.
For Reza Humanfar - the "technical brain of the company" - the journey into the Internet of Things (IoT) began in 2011, when the computer scientist realized the first projects at a supplier of intelligent electricity meters.
Together, the brothers wanted to launch an IoT device that “has a legal basis”. The smoke alarm requirement came at the right time: “We have developed a smoke alarm that can do more. Being able to control the user via a smartphone app in which air sensors and motion detectors are integrated.”
Reza pitched the idea to Vattenfall and they agreed to buy larger quantities if the product could be developed to series maturity.
The beginning of a success story: To date, Vattenfall has delivered around 50,000 devices to its customers. The business model: Free hardware, value-added services as part of an electricity contract and additional services at a bargain price.
The Humanfar brothers were soon thinking beyond smart smoke alarms. The reasons: time-consuming ISO certifications, a densely occupied market and the fact that landlords primarily purchase smoke detectors in order to comply with their legal obligation, but are not interested in additional services.
User experience, design and outstanding service - these are the criteria for success if you want to conquer the homes of German citizens.
Today, Livy Alive is equipped with a variety of sensors: A motion sensor based on radar technology, a combined temperature, humidity and VOC sensor that detects various dangerous gases. A LUX and a CO sensor. The latter is an important feature for users like Karl Kramer. Because in his mother's apartment, a gas boiler provides heating and hot water.
A camera with a super wide-angle lens is the eye of the station. Infrared LEDs with automatic IR filter ensure it can see even in the dark. Loudspeakers and five microphones are mouth and ears.
“A1 Digital actively supported us in the implementation. A partnership at eye level. Our users can be sure that their data is stored securely - at A1 Digital in a cloud data center in the EU."
In addition to the usual WLAN and Bluetooth connectivity, an M2M eSIM from A1 Digital is installed in each box. The devices currently work with LTE, but are open to 5G. "Mobile communications are a security feature: Even if the conventional Internet connection is lost or the power fails, the user is protected because the alarms remain active."
The ideal user experience starts with unpacking: A pressure sensor switches Livy Alive on and establishes the connection to the back end via LTE as soon as the user takes it out of the box. "The user only has to attach the box to the wall and connect it to the power supply," explains Amir Humanfar. And that too is easy thanks to the included magnetic wall mount. In addition, HUM Systems offers its customers an installation service that they can book.
From the factory, not all sensors and services are live. “That would simply overwhelm most users. Using the app, they can easily and conveniently activate the services they need themselves,” emphasizes Amir Humanfar. Or turn it off again as needed. Like Karl Kramer, who uses his Livy Alive in Mallorca with a data package as a router for as long as he spends his vacation on the island. If he leaves, he only activates the alarm function.
"That's what it's all about: Livy Alive adapts to the situation of its owner. It doesn't matter whether it's a holiday home, care apartment or children's room," emphasizes Amir Humanfar
“IoT and managed connectivity solutions should also be automated and easy to implement for manufacturers and operators. Thanks to the many implemented customer projects, we can support you in a variety of ways. Starting with a workshop to support in developing the devices and the platform. “, says Anett Gilles, Senior Key Account Manager Enterprise at A1 Digital.
That's why automated processes handle more than 90 percent of all background services. This begins with the registration of the stations after commissioning. It applies to a large part of all administrative activities. "Because operating 50,000 devices by hand is simply impossible." SmartHome is a mass market with little room for manual intervention. The cost pressure is enormously high for large quantities.
Even if users activate services in real time, book them for a fee or deactivate them, automated services handle all activities in the background.
"As IoT specialists, we aim to understand the processes and business cases of our customers and to support them in their efficient implementation. This is an important unique selling proposition. After all, these are business-relevant applications that are operated with A1 Digital solutions. Customer satisfaction is very important to us, including our customers' customers. Where A1 Digital is in, everything has to work perfectly,” emphasizes Anett Gilles.
"The ideal user experience starts with unpacking. The user only has to attach the box to the wall and connect it to the power supply."