Jumping on the smart home bandwagon, Lava International co-founder Vishal Sehgal has launched Ottomate International, a new smart home solution brand. The new entity, which is touted to have spent 16 months in R&D and researched over 750 homes in India, has brought a smart fan as its maiden product. Dubbed as Ottomate Smart Fan, the new offering is enabled with Bluetooth mesh and is built to work with a dedicated app. It is also powered by a Qualcomm chipset and designed specifically by Bengaluru-based Foley Designs. Ottomate is also set to expand its presence in the smart home segment by launching smart lights and smart geysers later this year. The company will bring smart security and smart home appliances sometime next year.
Unlike a conventional fan that comes with five speed levels, the smart fan by Ottomate lets users adjust the speed as per their convenience, and not as per any specific speed levels. The fan uses the company's My Air technology to offer step-less air flow mechanism. The Ottomate Smart app, which is initially available for download on Android devices, also comes with a slider that offers an easy way to adjust the speed of the fan.
Ottomate claims that while companies including Panasonic have attempted to offer a similar experience in the past, they used a relay instead of a technology similar to Ottomate's My Air. The proprietary technology also enables different modes, including the Otto mode that automatically adjusts the airflow after detecting the climate conditions in a particular room. This mode essentially uses the built-in sensors of the smart fan to adjust its speed to ambient room temperature and humidity. It also works with algorithms that are touted to be based on internal research conducted in about 10 cities in the country.
Alongside the Otto mode, the Ottomate Smart app comes with the Breeze mode that changes the fan speed cyclically to create a natural breeze effect. There is also the Turbo mode to surge the fan speed 10 percent higher than the top speed. The app also has a Master Switch that works with Qualcomm's CSRmesh over Bluetooth v5.0 connectivity to let you control all the Ottomate devices in your home with a one-touch operation.
Instead of opting for a common Wi-Fi interface, Ottomate has used Bluetooth mesh that is capable of enabling connectivity between 200 devices at once. Sehgal tells Gadgets 360 that the team ended up with Bluetooth mesh after evaluating options such as Wi-Fi, Infrared (IR), and Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT).
"When we started researching, we realised that actually, Bluetooth is the best suited for this scenario," he says. "There was one problem with Bluetooth connectivity, which was the limited connectivity. But that issue has been resolved with mesh."
Having said that, Ottomate is in plans to bring a Wi-Fi bridge device that will enable the smart fan to operate using a Wi-Fi network.
"Google is a strong partner for Lava, and we are very regularly in touch with them, and the Google partnership would have become very strategic for Ottomate," Sehgal tells Gadgets 360.
The Ottomate Smart app also has guest functionality to let users even allow their guests to use the smart fan directly from their smartphones. The guests would just need to enter their phone number to connect their handsets with the Bluetooth mesh.
In addition to enabling commands through the Ottomate Smart app, the first-generation smart fan is capable of working with a remote controller that will be sold separately. The controller will come with the same Bluetooth mesh technology that is powering the fan -- alongside the traditional IR blaster. The smart fan is notably powered by a Qualcomm CSR1020, paired with dual boot memory and an ARM M4 Core CPU clocked at 23MHz. Also, it is touted to have an air delivery of 245 CMM.
Ottomate also has a smart ready fan that doesn't come with the smart features out-of-the-box but provides customers with the option to have a similar fan design along with the ability to add the smart functionality. The company claims that customers will be able to turn the smart ready fan into a smart fan in just 30 minutes. However, they need to spend more than Rs. 1,000 for the conversion.
There are also plans to bring voice-enabled smart fans in the next three months. Furthermore, Sehgal reveals that Ottomate is set to bring Google Assistant-powered smart fans in the coming future. This will notably be different from the Google Assistant integration planned for the first-generation smart fan model since the company would offer onboard voice assistant with cloud access.
The Ottomate Smart Fan will be available in India for purchase with a price tag of Rs. 3,999, while the smart ready model will come at Rs. 2,999. The prices notably include installation charges. Also, the remote controller for the smart fan will be available separately at Rs. 149.
Online availability of the Ottomate Smart Fan is set for March 20 through the Ottomate.com website, though it will go on sale through major e-commerce sites starting April 2. The fan will also be available through over 1,000 offline stores in 250 cities.
Synergy between Lava and Ottomate
Apart from Sehgal, various employees from smartphone vendor Lava have been a part of Ottomate that has R&D centres in Bengaluru and Hyderabad. The executive, however, tells Gadgets 360 that there isn't any direct relation between Lava and Ottomate. "They're two separate companies," he asserts. "The synergy as in that founders are common on the board. But apart from the Lava founders, there are founders of Luminous and also founders of Yash."
When asked why Ottomate picked a smart fan to begin its journey, Sehgal underlines that the move is entirely to tap the market potential.
"India happens to have 60 million fans [sales] in a year," he says. "Even if the air conditioners are installed, we don't keep them on all the time -- unlike in the US. This is a phenomenon common across all Indians -- even billionaires in the country have the same nature. We, thus, largely rely on fans, whether ceiling fans or table fans."
"Majorly in each and every house in India, there are lights and fans. Therefore, if we need to become a household name in India as a company, there's nothing better than a fan and light because there is no other product that has this level of penetration," he continues.
Ottomate doesn't project any particular share in the market of ceiling fans that is majorly dominated by brands such as Crompton Greaves, Orient, Havells, Usha, Bajaj, and Khaitan among others. Nevertheless, Sehgal tells Gadgets 360 that his brand will be a "volume player" in the market. "We are intending to do big volumes," he states. "We have a million installed capacity."
The first-generation Ottomate Smart Fan comes as a "100 percent 'Made in India' product, and Sehgal reveals that including its PCBA, the entire model is being manufactured locally in the country. Ottomate is also claiming to offer its after-sales service in over 250 cities across the country, including various small towns.