crowdsourcing
Wireless Technologies

Crowdsourcing Innovation: Ali Jelveh, ProtoNet

Crowdfunding sites are offering a new path for inventors with original ideas. We talk to inventors looking to gain the public’s favour…

for-online-ali-jelveh-protonet-ceo
 Name
:  Ali Jelveh

 Job title: Co-founder and CEO

 Organisation: Protonet

 Location: Mountain View, California

 

Product: Protonet Zoe

protonet-zoe-wall-grey

 

What it does & how it works:

Protonet Zoe is a free-standing smart home hub operated by voice recognition.

What makes it special?

ZOE has been designed to be the perfect entry point to a smart home that’s beautifully designed, easy to use and free of specific manufacturer or standard lock-in - while keeping your most important data private and secure.

ZOE can be taught actions subject to certain conditions, such as turning on the light after unlocking the front door and can receive a wide range of natural commands due to her unique speech and syntax recognition technology. ZOE also has the capability to learn various behavioral patterns and coordinates smart home devices accordingly. Finally, ZOE is not only open-sourced, but it doesn’t need to be connected to any cloud to work, offering increased data security and protection for users.

What’s your background, and what inspired you to come up with the idea?

I am a backend architect with previous work experience at XING AG and early social networking sites. I believe that technology shouldn’t just make our lives easier but help us become more independent as citizens. So with my partner Christopher Blum, we set out to create private cloud servers that would be amazingly easy to use but would give control and ownership back to business owners. ZOE is just a continuation of that idea, bringing that vision of independence back home.

You’ve previously had crowdfunding success with SeedMatch, why choose IndieGoGo this time?

Seedmatch is a Germany-only platform that wouldn’t allow any other buyers from other countries to be a part of our crowdfunding campaign. Also it is not a pure pre-order campaign which is what we wanted to use this time around.

Is Crowdfunding good for innovation? How so?

Yes, crowdfunding allows users to see a product and understand the innovative nature behind it that will make their lives easier, etc. It allows a user to connect with a future product that can then be adapted or molded to better fit the consumers wants/needs before it goes into production. It gives developers a chance to make the final product perfect without putting out millions in generational upgrades to come up with a visionary product years after its inception.

Were you surprised with how successful your IGG campaign was?

Absolutely, Smart Home technology is a very new field and having raised ~$300k is really amazing. What’s even better: we’re already seeing a hugely engaged community and I love to interact with them.

What lessons did you learn from your first campaign, and what have you done differently this time?

Telling a compelling story both from a vision standpoint as well as from a product standpoint is really important. We tried to make a complex technical product really understandable, I think we succeeded in that. Unfortunately we were on a much tighter timeline this time so we could really do everything that we wanted. Maybe next time.

When is the product due to ship?

Christmas 2016

How do you plan to compete with large companies such as Nest/Alphabet, Amazon and others?

We believe that there’s a real demand for technology that doesn’t see us consumers as simply data providers that need to be tricked into a forever locked-in product experience. Once you’re able to provide a similar experience in a product that you can truly own we see people moving over to products that respect their security and privacy needs.

Nest recently announced it was closing down services to Revolv – can users of smart home products expect to see their technology becoming obsolete and shut down becoming more common in the future?

With Google shutting down the Revolv product line - we're again confronted with the fundamental question of who really owns the technologies that we use in our daily lives. That's not how technology should work. We believe that technology should support us, make our lives more comfortable and help us be more independent. These are our homes, we're the only ones that should get to decide whether something is turned on or shut down. And of course, we should also be the only ones deciding who gets access to all that valuable data we're constantly creating. When we set out to build ZOE, these were our guiding principles and with the crowds help, we're turning this vision into a reality.

ZOE uses a very simple If-This-Then-That type approach to its app – do you think previous smarthome apps & software have been lacking on the user experience side?

Absolutely. We’ve used a lot of these smart home products before we set out to build our own. We believe that smartness is much more than just simple remote control functionality. Protonet ZOE allows developers and consumers to really orchestrate their homes and be completely free in how and which smart home technologies they want to integrate into their daily lives. For this to work we had to really break down these programming approaches into a natural, visual interface.

Possible business use/advantage?

Absolutely. We’ve used a lot of these smart home products before we set out to build our own. We believe that smartness is much more than just simple remote control functionality. Protonet ZOE allows developers and consumers to really orchestrate their homes and be completely free in how and which smart home technologies they want to integrate into their daily lives. For this to work we had to really break down these programming approaches into a natural, visual interface.

What’s next for the company and the product?

With the Protonet ZOE, we will bring one of the smartest and most aesthetic Smart-Home Hubs to the market in 2016. Our clear goal is “The Home of the Free made smart”, because people should be able to choose how to live with modern technology, even at home. We stand for intelligence and data privacy with our products, and have proved that these aspects are compatible.

 

 

crowdsourcing-button

PREVIOUS ARTICLE

« Typical 24: Ian Finlay, Abiquo

NEXT ARTICLE

C-Suite Talk Fav Tech: Todd McKinnon, Okta »
author_image
Dan Swinhoe

Dan is Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect. Writes about all manner of tech from driverless cars, AI, and Green IT to Cloudy stuff, security, and IoT. Dislikes autoplay ads/videos and garbage written about 'milliennials'.  

  • twt
  • twt
  • twt
  • Mail

Recommended for You

How to (really) evaluate a developer's skillset

Adrian Bridgwater’s deconstruction & analysis of enterprise software

Unicorns are running free in the UK but Brexit poses a tough challenge

Trevor Clawson on the outlook for UK Tech startups

Cloudistics aims to trump Nutanix with 'superconvergence' play

Martin Veitch's inside track on today’s tech trends

Poll

Is your organization fully GDPR compliant?