Dream big, live smart with smanos
Editor / Provider: SMAhome Editorial Department | Updated: 7/21/2014 | Article type: Hot Topics
In 2013, smart home technology brand smanos was incepted in Hoofddorp, which sits in the picturesque outskirts of Amsterdam. Harnessing cutting-edge design and DIY usability concepts and ergonomics, smanos brings the ultimate simplicity in wireless smart home and home security user experience to households worldwide. Delivering more than just a sense of security, smanos also ensures user-definable comfort and convenience, along with mobile accessibility. In its pursuit for perfection in human-centric research and design, smanos invests heavily in product and market development, and partners with top-notch hardware and software developers and industrial designers in Europe and the U.S. for greater smart home integration.
While smanos is a relatively new smart home technology brand on the market, the forces behind it are anything but. A brainchild between Chuango Security Technology and Chuango Europe, smanos embodies a decade-long commitment to minimalistic design and system reliability. Marketed and serviced from Amsterdam, smanos is Chuango's security, monitoring and automation solution portfolio for the global market, targeting especially retail channels that carry premium consumer electronics and connected devices.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
The mother company Chuango was established in 2001 by Ken Li and his late father Lee. It specializes in radio frequency technology and wireless smart home systems, ranging from DIY security and home automation to energy and health management. The company is rapidly expanding its solution portfolio and global partner network, with products and systems researched and developed in Fuzhou and Taipei, designed in Shenzhen and Amsterdam, manufactured and packaged in Dongguan, and brought to life worldwide.
Since 2010, the company has experienced triple-digit sales growth year-on-year. Europe and the U.S. have been the most significant contributors, but the momentum is also picking up in many other markets. Then came another stepping stone—IFSEC International 2013; Chuango outperformed other multinational conglomerates in the alarm industry and went home with Product of the Year in the Intruder Alarm or Exterior Deterrent category. After winning that award, Li had the ambition, vision and plans to build Chuango's own brand, so he recruited long-term business partner Brian Borghardt to further pursue that development path.
A born entrepreneur, Borghardt eagerly joined the fast expanding Chuango family in 2013 as General Manager for Chuango and smanos Europe, after having distributed Chuango products in the Benelux market for a few years. “I am really excited to be part of a dynamic, creative, design-centric team,” Borghardt said. “In joining hands with Chuango's global product and business development teams, Chuango Europe is committed to serving our OEM partners in the region, and is looking to grow our smanos brand business with compatible distributors and retailers.” His team is complete with experienced sales and marketing, technical support and logistics personnel from the consumer electronics and IT industries.
The European headquarters—a US$1.4- million, multifunctional facility—is a design, sales and marketing, technical support and logistics center aimed to serve Chuango's existing and new partners and clients in the EMEA region. The investment not only facilitates the integration and optimization of resources, operations and competitiveness, but also helps drive global branding and marketing efforts, said Hayden Hsu, Director of Global Brand Development for Chuango and smanos, and General Manager of Chuango Taiwan. The logistics center is located in Hoofddorp, just outside of Amsterdam and a five-minute drive from Schiphol Airport. “The Netherlands is the hub of Europe, and an open and accommodating country. The superior conditions in talent, taxation and logistics make it an ideal place for investment,” Li said. The assistance and high- quality services from the Dutch Foreign Investment Agency and Amsterdam in Business have not gone unnoticed. “They have guided us with courtesy and efficiency. We really appreciate their input.”
WHAT MAKES SMANOS TICK
What sets smanos apart from the competition is the total package. Traditional alarm systems are associated with tedious wire installation, hefty monthly fees and false alarm fines. smanos puts the smarts of smart home and smart security back in users' hands and enables them to regain control and privacy from guards and monitoring stations.
The complete smanos smart home portfolio speaks self-install, or DIY. “From wireless, app-enabled alarm systems to remote security, energy and health management, our solutions cater to today's homeowners' mobile lifestyles, and ensure they have complete control, comfort and visual confirmation right at their fingertips within a few short minutes and easy steps,” Borghardt said. “We go to great lengths to seamlessly blend security, monitoring and automation capabilities into end users' everyday appliances. They can focus on more precious things or significant others in life, while smanos stands on guard for them 24/7 in the backdrop.”
To deliver what the market needs and what the average homeowner really demands, smanos works with multiple development teams in China, the Netherlands, Singapore, Taiwan and the U.S., in addition to Chuango resources, to make sure the latest hardware and software designs and reliable wireless transmission technologies are embodied in each solution, “to make the lives of our channel customers and their end customers easy, secured and environmentally friendly,” Hsu explained. User experience and quality assurance are also tried and tested across continents so that most household and daily operation requirements are met with flying colors. “It goes way beyond designing cool-looking GUIs. It's about truly understanding people's lives and empowering them with the ability to easily safeguard and automate their properties.” For example, the IR cut filter and pan/tilt stepping motor of the latest smanos home IP camera under development have gone through strenuous tests to ensure a minimum non-stop operation time of five years. “‘Set it and forget it' is one of the benchmarks that we measure ourselves against,” Hsu identified.
In sales and marketing, the smart, sleek-looking and simple-to-use smanos systems sell themselves. “Our dedicated team is with our channel and retail partners every step of the way and throughout the product lifecycle to ensure ease, flexibility and intelligence can be palpated and realized in hardware and software engineering, sales and marketing, and distribution and installation,” Borghardt explained. “We also have a local European team ready to serve and listen to what's demanded in the region, so we can adapt quickly and accordingly.” A similar setup will be established in the U.S. in the second half of 2014 to better address needs arising from the Americas market, Hsu added.
Compared to any other traditional, wired system that requires professional installation and monthly monitoring fees, the ROI of any smanos system for end customers becomes crystal clear—in just three to six months. “We have joint marketing programs and budgets in place to help our distributors and retailers get noticed in various physical and digital media, and help engage end customers through special in-store or seasonal events and online/social media interactions,” Hsu detailed. Dedicated and experienced channel marketing personnel are in place as well to provide necessary ammunitions to make a splash where- and whenever needed. “All these investments result in added benefits, ensuring fast and open feedback for product optimization and solution development.”
CHANGING LANDSCAPE AND REDEFINING SMART HOME
The news of Apple and Google, along with countless startups and kickstarters, entering the smart home market obviously caught everyone's eye. smanos has the upper hand in being armed with knowledge of detailed, evolving user requirements over the last 15 years, thanks to Chuango's unwavering support. “We are not competing with Chuango's clients, who generally have a stronger foothold in the DIY building material segments. In fact, we are bringing some of them to where smanos really shines – the likes of Apple Store, Cool Blue, FNAC, IKEA, MediaMarkt, Newegg and many more premium consumer-friendly outlet types that are looking for smart, simple, sleek, mobile yet compact and integrated ingenuity for home users,” Borghardt explained. “Cross-competition should be of no concern as we only appoint a select few partners in each market and do everything we can to help them achieve and outperform their P&L goals. We are a global smart home technology enabler with local team members, always endeavoring to bring the latest and most reliable innovations to market in a timely and affordable manner.”
“While we respect our existing and potential competitors, we are more focused on developing and delivering innovative, comprehensive and easy-to-use smart home solutions, and continue to observe and cater to our end customers' evolving residential needs while helping our distribution and retail partners outstrip average market and profit growth,” Hsu highlighted. “Our channel partners are our eyes and ears in the market. In everything that we do and invest in, we make sure we mutually help each other grow.
In 2014, we will continue to cultivate and develop our retail, IT/mobile and consumer electronic channels, while exploring other possibilities in the audio/visual, home décor and hospitality/health segments.”
For competitive reasons, detailed product development plans could not be disclosed, but a glimpse into the current and future smanos pipelines is rather exciting. The X300/X500 systems come in sleek, award-winning form factors and work at 868 MHz for higher reliability and interoperability, while supporting GSM and smartphone app operation and remote firmware upgrades. Another cool innovation is the G310, which combines and disguises GSM alarm and Bluetooth speaker functions in a radio alarm clock form factor. Additionally, “the H400 Home Cloud system is our brand new smart home command center which can control your security alarm and camera devices and energy-saving plugs via WiFi while maintaining smanos' renowned cellular capability; whereas the W100 WiFi/PSTN dual-mode alarm system doubles the protection with system redundancy, so that preprogrammed numbers always get the call or smartphone push notification when an alarm is triggered,” Borghardt said. It also comes with an unobtrusive touch keypad, with a much longer lifespan than wired systems and mechanical keys, and a pre-set arm/disarm schedule that can easily blend into your daily routine, Hsu added.
Worldwide, smanos has garnered phenomenal recognition over the past several months, and growth momentum is still accelerating. Building on its mother company's strong foundation, smanos will continue to steamroll ahead with even more consolidated app control over in- house security, monitoring and automation devices, and explore and mix and match all possible wireless protocols—such as Bluetooth, GSM/3G/4G LTE, WiFi, ZigBee and Z-Wave—for even more user convenience. “We are pushing the limits of the ultimate smart and simple home to include total security and safety, energy/ health/wellness monitoring, baby and elderly care, and many more surprises. So, you'd better stay tuned!” Li shared excitingly.