What’s Next For Smart Homes, Cities And Enterprises?
Unified Inbox Simplifies Conversations Between Humans And Machines
Imagine a future where your alarm wakes you half an hour earlier because an important meeting has been rescheduled overnight. Before you even get out of bed, you send a message to your coffee maker to prepare your morning cuppa just the way you like it. On your way home, you message your air-conditioner to switch on and instruct your oven bot to preheat for dinner.
This prospect is closer than you think with Unified Inbox. The Singapore-based company’s UnificationEngine is the world’s first intelligent IoT messaging platform, facilitating seamless communication between users and their smart homes by acting as a universal translator. By adding smart devices to a phone’s contact list, users can contact their appliances in the same way as they chat with their friends.
“We are working towards a future of smarter homes, smarter cities and smarter enterprises,” says Toby Ruckert, founder and CEO of Unified Inbox. “The overall goal is to increase our productivity and have more time on our hands. United Inbox fulfils the true potential of the Internet of Things by making it frictionless and fun.”
Ruckert contends that IoT should be deployed in a way that it “plugs seamlessly into our lives and facilitates more productivity, efficiency and happiness.” Created with the AI capabilities of IBM Watson, the UnificationEngine can already control and communicate with smart appliances from ovens to kettles. Other home appliances being tested include locks, window blinds, toasters and garden sprinklers.
The idea for Unified Inbox came to Ruckert in 2010 because he needed to download too many apps for his smart home. As homeowners generally use separate apps for their TV, lights and security systems, which are made by different manufacturers, he saw a need to reduce the information overload and streamline the deluge of devices and applications.
“Right now, people need a separate app to control each of their smart devices or to query enterprise software. With the growing amount of connected devices and software, people are forced to download more and more new apps, which is not truly ‘smart’,” observes Ruckert.
“We enable people to communicate with and control their smart devices via simple messaging on their choice of channel. It removes the need for an additional app and creates comfort and simplicity for the user.”
Unified Inbox claims its technology is compatible with over 20 popular communication channels including SMS, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Viber. Although the UnificationEngine also enables people to talk to their smart devices, similar to voice-activated digital assistants Siri, Alexa and the Google Assistant, texting still feels like a more natural option than speaking out loud.
The company is working on projects in the airline, hotel and telecom industries. In addition, the Bosch IoT centre in Singapore has collaborated with Unified Inbox on a number of appliances, including smart surveillance cameras with intelligent video analysis and a coffee machine that responds to messaging.
The convergence of AI and IoT is poised to have a transformative impact on our lives, creating efficient, hyperconnected systems and opening up exciting possibilities including life-saving smart medical devices and self-driving cars that eliminate human fallibility. Pretty soon, the idea of sending a message to your coffee maker will not seem so farfetched.