Longhorn: A trendsetter in the field of IoT sensors

Longhorn: A trendsetter in the field of IoT sensors
The company’s success can be traced back to two key factors: product development and customer-oriented strategies. It does not rely solely on manufacturing products, but provides reliability, innovation and foresights to its customers.
 
With a strong global presence in the supply of traditional security alarm systems, the company has been moving towards the smart home by developing cloud platform solutions for the emerging IoT industry. Longhorn leverages its rich experiences from security hardware and service offerings to its smart home platform iHORN. The new brand name “iHORN,” which sounds like “I home (the pronunciation of 'I' is similar to 'love' in Chinese), refers to a love and sense of belonging for both the corporate Longhorn and home.
 
Founded in 1995, Shenzhen Longhorn Security Technology Co, started out providing security alarm systems in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. Longhorn is the member company of China Security & Fire Technology Group, (CSFT). With 20 years of dedication to high-quality and innovative products, Longhorn quickly grew to become a top 10 national brand in China and a prestigious manufacturing partner for worldwide brands. Also, the company’s products received Honorable Mention at ISC West. Its product lines range from the intrusion alarms, digital video solutions and villa door phones to home automation solutions and cloud platform for commercial and residential markets.

Standing out from the rest

The most important thing for alarm products is reliability. The company was approved by ISO9001:2000 quality management system two years after its establishment. Soon after, the company became an original equipment manufacturer of sirens for Honda, one of the largest Japanese car makers. The company also passed the ISO14001, OHSAS 18001 (Health and safety Management systems) and QS9000 International Quality System Certifications, followed by the rigorous ISO/TS16949 system certification respectively. Its products are also certified with international approvals, such as CCC, CE, FCC, UL and EN.

With reliable products and trustworthy manufacturing services, Longhorn has built up long-term relationship with the leading brands with its reliable joint product development and manufacturing services for more than 10 years. Today, its products are distributed across 60 countries to global leading companies, such as Vanke, Huawei and intelbras. 

Not only does quality represents the craftsmanship of a product, but also reflects how it is perceived by consumers. For sellers, reliable and low-deficient products are essential; for consumers, they may even make purchases at first sight. Contrary to traditional security alarm products, Longhorn Vice General Manager Helen Peng believes attractive ID design, ease of use and affordable prices are must-have features for consumer electronics products. Its products are designed with stylish and easy-to-use designs in mind. With its smart home solutions like D1 and LHT200, making a home smart is a no-brainer.
 
In pursuit of top-grade products, the company houses mold injection equipment and in-house ID designers. Peng went on to explain the company’s design philosophy—catching consumers’ eyes and touching their hearts with sensual touch and feel, and elegant shape and texture. The stylish design makes its products an ideal “companion fit” for modern decorations. Peng believes quality is a differentiation that can make Longhorn products stand out from their counterparts.

End users are fundamental for the IoT industry, Peng pointed out, adding user experiences as key drivers to propel purchasing decisions. 

“Our strength comes from accumulative experiences on consumer preferences. This makes us different from the rest.” She added, “what we do first is to conduct internal test to offer ultimate user experience in setup and usability. Then we open the registration for the consumer trials before launching our new products. We care about consumers’ behaviors, attitudes, and emotions when using our products.”

Longhorn started selling its products on Tmall, one of the largest online retail stores in China, three years ago. In addition, its products are globally available through online and physical retail stores like Amazon, eBay and ADI. 

What's on offer

Longhorn offers smart home security solutions that comprise D1 starter kit and LHT200 based on wireless connection technologies for smart home users. iHORN, a new brand for smart home product lines, targets at mid-range and high-end markets. Longhorn’s smart home solution encompasses alarms, audio, IP camera, RFID, air quality monitoring and energy management.

Peng indicated that smart home refers to not just a product, solution or industry, but a lifestyle. Longhorn understands the hustle and bustle of an everyday family life, so in response the company has been offering the starter kit for smartphones to meet their needs. When users leave their homes, all lights, smart devices and home appliances will turn off automatically. When they come back home and approach the front door, they can unlock the door via NFC-enabled mobile phones. What welcomes them are their favorite music from connected Wi-Fi speakers, preferred indoor temperature and fresh air from air purifiers. The smart IR controller let users to remotely control home appliances like lights, air conditioners and water heaters for energy-saving and comfort lives with the mobile app on their smartphones.

Standard unification and industry coopetition

On top of product design trends, Peng shared her observations on the smart home industry. Peng predicts the smart home will embrace explosive growth over the next few years in China after entrance of leading companies of home appliances, Internet service providers, and online retails. “Big brands are influential to consumers because they are well-known consumer brands. Also, they have giant customer bases, amounting to hundreds and millions of users,” Peng explained. She believes cross-industry cooperation, kind of coopetition, is the key to success.

“By far, smart home security and automation products are nice-haves, but not must-haves in China. However, smart home products add values to the living necessities. We believe making our products affordable, and to be part of the bread and butter is necessary to boost market demand,” Peng said.

Besides opportunities, she also sees industrial challenges in three to five years. In smart homes, multiple standards coexist. “The major industrial challenge at present is lack of standardization,” she said, adding that besides RF 433MHz and 868MHz, the company offers solutions supporting mainstream wireless technologies, such as Z-Wave, ZigBee and Wi-Fi. Peng also predicts a few mainstream and dominant standards will come out only when smart home products reaches the mass markets as did TVs, smartphones and notebook PCs in the past.

Cloud platform and big data create smarter homes

Internet of Things (IoT) creates a new industry and business models with enhanced production value for certain industries. Spurred by the growing trend of IoT, Longhorn offers iHORN cloud platform to cater to increasing IoT demands.

The company has developed IoT solutions, including IP cameras, sensors and cloud platform. As a major player in the device layer within the IoT ecosystem, Peng believes sensors compose one of the largest segments of the IoT industry. She viewed smart home as an important driver for the IoT business.

For smart home companies, cloud platform offers new business opportunities. Companies enhance their sales revenue with both hardware and software by offering total solutions. Peng pointed out that ”smartphone and mature network have driven the smart home development in the past two years. Proliferating 3G, 4G, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies force tighter connection among smart devices. Users have smarter ways to secure their lives and create a comfort living environment.”

In comparison to traditional alarm systems, the smart home systems offer a flexible and free way for home security monitoring. Also, its nature of openness expands the industrial ecosystem at a rapid pace. The company rides the wave by offering smart home alarm and home automation systems as well as a cloud platform called iHORN.

The company developed its iHORN cloud platform. The platform offers peace of mind via safety sensors and security cameras, and provides remote controls on lights and home appliances. For advanced features, the platform, connecting to temperature and motion sensors, supports voice control function for intelligent control. The system connects remotely to security service providers with cloud video recording services, push alarm notifications, and other home automation services.

Moreover, iHORN will offer GPS location services for emergency assistance, vehicle tracking and personal safety services like elderly and children care, and healthcare. In the long run, the platform can help the company to generate revenue stream by selling analyzed data like consumers’ consumption preferences, user habits, healthcare information and so on.

As the security alarm industry, services can generate more revenue for industry players than hardware itself at the smart industry as well. In smart homes, hardware contributes to the largest portion of the industrial production value though.
 

Defining a real smart home

Everyone has a different interpretation of what is “smart.” In Peng’s mind, a real smart home system can automatically manage smart home devices, and even make decisions for homeowners. Otherwise, they can only be ”Home Control” devices. Peng believes a real smart home system should be endowed with intelligence, offering smart environment prediction algorithm. “A smart device could think, communicate with users, and take smart actions. The smart devices perform actions based on preset scenes or events,” Peng explained.

“For example, when the temperature is over 30 degrees Celsius, all the connected devices like air conditioners and fans will automatically turn on to cool down a room. When the air quality becomes worse or unhealthy for sensitive groups, the sensors at home will notify users and connect to the air purifier which will turn on to decontaminate air in a room at the same time,” Peng said.

“A real smart home should bring users comforts and conveniences with intelligent designs. For example, if we place an order, the delivery will be sent within a few days. Through the online payment system, we don’t even need to take out cash.”

In addition, it should be internally functional and externally attractive. “We are proud that our product like D1is aesthetically-pleasing as well as easy-to-use,” said Peng.

Cornerstone of success

In the last two decades, the company has proven to be a symbol of success amongst its peers through the everlasting pursuit of quality and DMS (Design, Manufacturing and Service) strategy. Longhorn invests around 10 to 15 percent of its annual turnover on R&D investment for ID, hardware and software design, testing and engineering services. At present, the company has more than 200 patents worldwide.

Equipped with high-precision production equipments, the company has a strong in-house manufacturing capability, including mold development, mold injection, surface treatment, coating and assembly lines. Regarding services, Longhorn listens to its customers’ needs and feedbacks for offering efficient, value-added and trustworthy services.

Peng believes leading smart home providers should have a good balance of product design, technological competitiveness, platform services and business models. Longhorn wants to be the largest and the most professional IoT sensor company in China through its unparalleled combination of hardware, software and cloud services. 
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