How IoT could be lifesaving for some households

Our IoT residency program kicked off this month and we couldn’t be more excited about it – we’re hosting seven cutting edge IoT startups from all over the world in our campuses in Berlin and Krakow, where they’ll be taking their solutions to the next level by joining forces with Deutsche Telekom’s IoT Creators

Two of the seven startups we’ve enrolled will be shaping lives at home and we asked them to join us for a chat about how IoT will impact developing economies, how this technology can erode day-to-day stress and the ways it will affect the housing sector in Africa. 

Daniel Aleghona, GaS360’s DevOps engineer, and Attahiru Jibril, GaS360’s hardware support engineer, at the NCDMB Nigeria R&D Fair in Yenagoa, Nigeria.

We spoke to Emmanuel Uwandu, the CEO of GaS360, a company that aims to solve the problem of low-income African households using dirty solid fuels like charcoal and kerosene (which are more expensive but seem like a cheaper alternative to liquefied petroleum gas or LPG because it can be purchased in fractional sums attractive to those on low disposable incomes) which are toxic and cause 4.3 million deaths a year. GaS360 provides IoT PAYG smart meters powered by A.I and mobile money to empower bottom of the pyramid users to buy clean(er) LPG cooking fuel on a pay as you use basis. 

We also spoke to Daniel Daoura, the founder and CEO of Pebblebee, a patented umbrella of IoT tracking solutions which emerged in 2012 as a necessary solution to having a curious toddler who loved hiding objects like keys and remote controls.

Pebblebee CEO Daniel Daoura

Beyond the obvious smart home use cases (controlling the temperature, lighting), how can IoT help us at home?

Daniel (Pebblebee): There are millions of ways IoT can add value to our lives at home.  The trick is to design a beautifully interconnected system that makes our lives more enjoyable and reduces our day-to-day stress.  But it seems like lately, the more IoT you use, the more stress you get.  We are experiencing a generational transformation, where data meets AI, and hardware has the potential to transform and improve our lives through improved efficiency.  

But are we there yet? Absolutely, in certain fields such as lighting and voice recognition.  Pebblebee’s mission for instance is to provide reassurance that users are connected to their valuables and pets.  We do this by providing trackable technology that makes our lives less stressful.  When going to the store to purchase your groceries for dinner, and you find out that your wallet is missing from your pocket, you might immediately assume that you’ve lost it! The Pebblebee App can provide you with peace of mind about where your wallet is located.  

Emmanuel (GaS360): I would argue it’s also worthwhile to consider how the application of IoT will vary in different locations. In developing economies, IOT will unlock a connected smart asset financing fintech market for middle and low-income economies. It will enable the provision of technology products that will greatly improve the quality of life for millions of households that earn below the World Bank poverty line per day. 

Most people living in developing and emerging economies do not have access to basic products, such as TVs, internet, refrigerators, electricity, clean cooking fuel, and are largely unbanked. These people are generally poor and lack access to IoT connections and pay-as-you-go technology that should allow them to pay for these products according to their earning patterns or capacity. IoT technology, particularly at the intersection of FinTech and cooking energy, will remove the burden of the often very high lump sum payment that has been an obstacle to accessing IoT products. 

Emmanuel Uwandu, CEO of GaS360

These combinations of IoT applications and functionalities embody one of the greatest prospects for changing the way households receive and consume IoT technology in their homes. Its application in cooking energy will provide one of the broadest and most inclusive benefits for the widest set of people by both easing the financial barrier for households and providing the needed data for investors. 

How will IoT change our experience of home over the next ten years?

Daniel (Pebblebee): That’s a scary but exciting question.  I believe that if managed and designed well, we can be less stressed and create more free time for ourselves, because IoT should enable us to have more time to spend doing the activities we love most.  Technology, if implemented properly, can improve the efficiency of our home on a day-to-day basis, allowing us to focus on doing what we love, and delegating the tedious tasks to IoT.

Emmanuel (GaS360): I agree with Daniel but I think it’s worth stressing how impactful this will be. I believe that IoT will revolutionize the experience of home a decade from now, although we’ll probably see the full effect by the end of this decade in developing economies, when the technologies being developed have reached proper product-market fit, and widespread adoption especially in developing economies.

In terms of market structure, IOT will formalize the informal fragmented housing sector in Africa as we can map addresses with connected devices, it will also digitize last mile retail and boost ecommerce as items can be delivered directly to households. 

At the product level, most goods will be offered as service and automation will pioneer the emerging Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) Business model. Due to the mass deployment of Analytics of Things (AoT) and IoT, a new goods-as-a-service distribution model will emerge to meet the needs of IoT connected low-income consumers and service distributors which will kickstart the transition to smart cities across Africa.  

As more IoT products are adopted in homes all around the globe, there will be a reduced need for certain seemingly strenuous activities. In addition, IoT by nature increases efficiency, thereby reducing expenditure, leading to an increased household disposable income on other items. 

Uwandu Emmanuel, the CEO of GAS360, and Daniel Ogunlolu, an embedded systems engineer at GAS360, at hubraum Berlin

IoT would enable household items, commodities and utilities to become connected, and as Daniel has mentioned, this would reduce wasted hours spent doing things like searching for remotes. A connected home would also enable real-time monitoring of activities, increasing security, among other things.

Analytics of Things (AoT) & IoT will lead the way in enabling faster and better quality decision-making, as it will supply homes with precise and real-time data good enough for decision-making. 

This was the first in our three part series on how IoT is shaping our homes, workplaces, cities and nature. Stay tuned – follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn or sign up for our newsletter – for parts two and three.

Plus, want more great IoT insights? Stop by our Berlin campus on 28th October, when we’ll be holding an IoT installfest and meet-up.

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