he 2016 AHR Expo took place just a couple of weeks after CES 2016, but the two shows couldn’t be more different in look and feel. CES is all about who can out-dazzle whom to wow consumers with the latest and greatest technologies. The AHR Expo, billed as the world’s largest HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration) marketplace, is a professional trade show, with more emphasis on proven solutions.
And yet, despite the differences in tone at the two shows, Ayla Networks received much of the same reaction at both, compared to the shows last year: People knew a lot more about the Internet of Things (IoT) in general, and were very familiar with Ayla.
In our AHR Expo booth, we displayed a number of our customers’ products, including smart thermostats from United Technologies (UTEC); Dimplex multi-room controller and wall heater; the new smart air conditioning products that were announced by TCL and Changhong; and other HVAC related products from other leading manufacturers.
Here are some other observations from the AHR Expo:
- From obscurity to familiarity. In previous years, the most common response we got at our booth was, “Hey, you’re a software company from Silicon Valley. What are you doing here?” This year, more people approached us saying, “We heard you are working with UTEC/TCL/Fujitsu and other leading HVAC manufacturers. Let’s talk!”
- Interoperability and creating ecosystems. Not only are manufacturers in the HVAC space interested in using the Ayla’s Agile IoT Platform to create connected products, they’re already thinking about how their connected products might connect and interoperate with other manufacturers’ products. In fact, the markets represented at the AHR Expo could be the first to establish truly interoperable IoT “systems” across related products such as ventilation, boilers, energy efficiency, water heaters, and thermostats.
For example, a fan company would be interested in integrating with thermostats to improve air quality or HVAC system efficiency. Or even talking to a door lock manufacturer about the potential security applications as most fans have a light that can be programmed as a security feature when homeowners are away, for instance.
The booth visitors liked the idea of cloud-to-cloud interoperability, pulling in things like weather data and leveraging specialized apps from Ayla partners such as Encycle for energy demand response, or mnubo to enable actionable insights into device data.
Because Ayla sits in the center of IoT connectivity, we’re ideally positioned to facilitate introductions among manufacturers as well as retailers and other distributors. The AHR Expo attendees asked lots of questions about how Ayla supports various consumer ecosystems, such as HomeKit and Works with Nest.
- Global expansion. The HVAC manufacturers were very interested in Ayla’s operations in China. The manufacturers want to expand their sales to other regions worldwide, and for most of them China is a huge and untapped market. In addition to leveraging the Ayla technology platform to support their deployments globally, the AHR Expo attendees also wanted to hear about partnership, industry knowledge, and other opportunities we’re in a position to help them with.
IoT adoption won’t take off overnight, of course. But a recent post on 2016 Predictions: Three Best Investments For Manufacturers from manufacturing.net—and Tweeted by @ahrexpo—lists the IoT as one of those three top investment areas.
We’re excited to help manufacturers in HVAC and other industries not only get IoT connected products to market, but also help them interoperate with other IoT products and, where the value really starts taking off, harness the data generated by the connected products to transform their businesses.