S1 Ep. 8 Connecting devices and software applications made easy

 

Published November 2022

 

The smart home/building market is complex. A smart automation system incorporates several technologies, including hardware, software, and internet connectivity. Ensuring all those things work together can be a point of frustration. That’s where Yonomi comes in. 

 

Kent Dickson, General Manager of Yonomi, joins this episode of Solving for Multifamily to talk about how their platform makes connecting various devices to software applications fast and easy. This ultimately leads to more flexibility and freedom for your property.

 

Who is Yonomi?

Yonomi, an Allegion brand, provides the smartest, most efficient way to integrate smart devices into your property management, energy management, wellness, and insurance software applications

 

Connect with the guest

Kent Dickson, General Manager of Yonomi at Allegio

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kedickson/


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Episode transcript:

 

00:01.67

rkgaulden

Okay, so Kent. Thanks for joining. Ah the podcast today and absolutely wanted to jump right into it. So I think the main focus for today something I want to focus on is.

 

00:03.51

Kent Dickson

Hey Robert thanks for having me. It's great to be here.

 

00:15.94

rkgaulden

We're seeing a lot of adoption of smart apartments smart buildings for various reasons you know traditionally people have talked about you know the resident experience and the byproducts of those systems for the resident but we're seeing a lot of adoption or at least a lot of curiosity towards implementing these systems because of property. Deiciecies and so I think the time is right now we're you know, understanding the complexity and and making it a lot easier for the ownership to decide to move forward is is a hot topic and I think that's where you know me really comes in I think you guys have the ability. To make those decisions through their technology partners a little bit Easier. Can you tell us a little bit about you know core to what you know me does who are you guys and kind of introduce us to to the Younomi team.

 

01:02.51

Kent Dickson

Ah, yeah, glad to do that. So um, you know me is is a company that has been around since 2013 and at the beginning of last year twenty twenty one ah we came into. Ah, formally into the elyian family so we're ah so we're part of eegia now. Um, but along the way what we've been doing is trying to build cloud platforms for iot ah to make it ultimately easier for. People creating great solutions whether it's around smart department or something else. Ah for connecting to connected devices because ah because you know back in 2013 you know where we saw the puck going and it still going there. It's ah it's it's and it's it's gaining momentum now. Is that you know everything's going to be connected everything that can be connected will be connected and so in these smart spaces. Um, where people live and work. Um, ah the implications around user experience. Um are really big. Um, so we wanted to make it really easy for clever bright entrepreneurial people to ah to you know, have a vision for a type of experience that they could enable whether it's around efficiency or access or or just ah.

 

02:31.41

Kent Dickson

You know amenities ah that they could basically easily connect to and take advantage of the capabilities of these smart devices. So That's what we've been building Out. You know it's a platform for software developers. Ah, who are creating these these solutions but we think it it massively. Ah, lowers the lowers, the barrier to entry to actually be able to interact with Iot devices.

 

02:55.31

rkgaulden

And so I think that's a really good point to start off with I think for your company the way I understand it. Smart spaces is maybe a better way to think about it. It doesn't matter if your partners are the technologists that are Inventing. You know are developing software for spaces that and. Included in a home or whether it's an apartment or whether it's a building or an office space I'd like to think of your company as one that allows that connectivity to the devices. All those different sensors or could be a lock. It could be a service Att Whatever it may be. And then connecting that to those software platforms to enable those experiences. Um, so in in this use case whether you're an ownership and you're considering smart Apartment. You know I think a lot of what I hear is you know? well. Which thermostat should I use and am I locked in in that thermostat over time based on which partners I choose I think can we pull on that thread a little bit about how you know me makes that a little bit easier.

 

03:56.48

Kent Dickson

Yeah, absolutely you know I think the I think the analogy that people who build platform. Well first of all the term platform is often mis misused and then people try to make a. An analogy to operating systems like oh we're we're basically the operating system. That's probably not exactly accurate either. But ah, but there is an element of it of of ah you know we all have experience using our desktop computer or our our mobile smartphone. Um, and. You can pretty easily as a user sort of swap out. You know, using you know airpods right now or using the onboard mic or or what you have like that should be all plug and play from a usery experience standpoint if you have ah you know ah a different. Ah. Headset or whatever. It'll just work. Um, you don't need to like go get a different operating system. You don't have to go in most cases, go get new software. It's just going to work with that operating system. That's what we're trying to ah have the experience be for ah say smart department solutions and apps that you know you write. This wants to say hey you know what? I really want to include in my smart department solution is thermostat control and you can kind of go build out that thermostat control. Um, ah through ah an interface that we provide that is a really common sort of thing and hey in apartment.

 

05:30.23

Kent Dickson

Or building a that yearre that you have you may they may be all Honeywell Thermostats Great. It works with that. Ah, but then in building B they're all Ecobe Thermostats Um, and guess what we work with that too and and that solution Developer. Didn't have to change a line of code they integrated once this says this is how I um am going to incorporate thermostats and this is the kind of controls and the user experience I'm going to create around that for my users and my ah property managers. But ah I don't have to go do a bespoke. Integration with Unwell or bespoke Integration. Ah with Ecobe It's just to me. It's a thermostat and it's at that level sort of a commodity at that point.

 

06:14.10

rkgaulden

And I think that's an important point to you know, Underscore you know and new construction I think it's a little bit easier if you're developing a brand new building and what type of technology. Do you want to put in this building. What does your technology stack look like how do I want it possibly to evolve over time I think that. Adds a layer of complexity but in the aftermarket if you have an existing building or if you're an owner who has a portfolio of buildings and all of them have different levels of technology probably not from the same manufacturer. What I think I'm hearing is you're trying to make it easier for this technology partner to say yup. Can work with that whether you have multiple manufacturers of thermostats inside the building right? It's it's that ease of entry and in in many ways then that becomes also freedom of choice I think I've heard you guys talk a little bit about that from a term you've used before is this what you would call your trait-based model is that why. So important for you know companies and developers to look at that I like to call it as that broader ecosystem. But I think you guys are taking it down a layer further is that what is that What resonates is that what you're trying to build so.

 

07:27.23

Kent Dickson

Yeah, it. It. It absolutely is and ah Tradeit trade based model really is ah just the idea that you know anything that can be common amongst devices should be common. Ah so the notion of. Set point on a thermostat. Ah you know should be common amongst all Thermostats. You know it isn't There's not an an industry standard for this or anything else. So We've kind of created this common trade-based way that that you as a software maker can sort of just say hey you know the only thing I want to do at this point in time. Send you a thermostat set point say cool to 72 I don't care how it got there I don't care that you know each of the different thermostat vendors implemented that differently that's invisible to me. Um, and you know taking that a further level you know? ah.. It's easy to sort of say hey by device type. They're all going to have these sort of common things like setpoint or in lock you know it's going to be a lock or unlock or a relock delay or something like that. Um, that should be common amongst all of those things and we try to make that um as common and seamless and portable Essentially as it can be. Um, but at another layer you know there are a bunch of things that basically just have on and off states. Um, they may may may be you know, lights or um or ah speakers or what what have you and you know the way that you as a software developer sort of say I want to take.

 

09:02.43

Kent Dickson

Turn things off, um you should have to just learn that one time and not have to do that across multiple device types.

 

09:09.23

rkgaulden

At the end of the day it feels like if you had I'm probably going to butcher this cap. But if you had simple devices you know, kind of binary on-off type things you're you're helping unify a way to connect to that I think there's additional value then that you're Creating. Or if you had a really complex device where there's multiple functions that you're making integration to those devices easy or easier because you're creating a pathway that is repeatable across your device. Manufacturers Partners Whoever you're you're creating those pathways to is that Correct. So.

 

09:46.99

Kent Dickson

Yeah,, that's that's exactly right? And again we think that lowers the barrier entry certainly lowers the amount of code that needs to be written in order to to um, ah to achieve any of these experiences that we're talking About. Um. And that's not to be Underappreciated. You know, maybe most people are not as hyper aware of this as I am but it's a macro trend that that has been happening for a long time and it's just getting more profound these days I think which is just the availability of of. Software developers in the world like you know so much of of business and solutions and experiences is enabled by software the demand for software developers to go create. Those things is very very high and they're simply just not enough to go around and and that's not. Ever going to get fixed. It really isn't I mean um, ah the the supply and Demand curve will always be how to whack on that and so anything that we can do to kind of lower that barrier to entry. Ah so that you know rather than having. To have you know 20 an army of 20 software developers. Go create this Solution. You might actually be able to do it with 10 ah because because you know the the hard ah sort of plumbing pieces of this you know, ah suddenly you know are easy to do.

 

11:11.61

rkgaulden

Yeah I I see that most certainly in the and the access control lockings side of the business if there was an easier pathway. We would see more adoption amongst our partners and I know we share some partners and and I would most certainly say it feels like if you can create a path where that partner can take. Core resources to work on their core business model that downstream benefits everybody right? It's easier for them to connect to various devices and and they leverage that you know me your company to to get that done at the same time then their core software engineers and developers can. Work on the core business model. Whether that's you know, innovating or connecting or creating a better resident experience or developing a better dashboard or an operational efficiency for the owner understanding that business more deeply and creating processes. It feels like you're you're bringing that highly needed. Efficiency model and saying we'll take this portion of your work that everybody has to do and it's this repeatable Model. We're going to simplify it for you So that you know the technologists out there can go work on their core missions and and use their resources appropriately.

 

12:26.78

Kent Dickson

Yeah, exactly that's that's the that's the vision. We think that's the value that we add here.

 

12:32.50

rkgaulden

It very good. Maybe a little bit for the audience that something to touch on and I I think I know the answer but I'm just going to throw it out there anyways, we see a lot of devices out there today communicate through different protocols right? Whether you're talking about zwave zigby wifi. For for you guys does does that impact the work you do can you work with any communication protocol. Can you lean into that a little bit. Okay.

 

13:01.13

Kent Dickson

Ah, ah, the short answer is we can um, but of course the the nuance and detail around set around that answer is that um these devices somehow have to be accessible. Ah, to us you know via an Api or cloud um, and and so for years. Um, we've worked with zigb and z-wave devices as well as wi-fi devices. But of course the zigb and zwave devices. You know all have a. You know a hub that connects them at a local level that connects up to so ah to their post-cloud platform and we integrate at that level. So at that level. You know we're pretty agnostic. Um, you know we we can still normalize those things like literally we have some thermostats that are on the platform that operate over. Over Zwave um, and ah some that operate over wi-fi but they can still be normalized that way. Um the plumbing of how they get down there. You know can can be you know complex but usually that's masked to the user but but. You know it's been really interesting I've been in this space for a long time way before 2 13 um and used to actually be on the board of directors of the of the zigby alliance. Um, and and so you know very familiar with how you know all these ah communication technologies and protocols have evolved.

 

14:32.93

Kent Dickson

Um, we're converging on a thing these days called matter. Um that you may all have heard of from the ah from the Csa and and matters going to be ah, pretty important in a lot of ways. Um, ah it is. It is meant to ah make devices when when you take them out of the box and start plugging them in or mounting them on walls or doors in in smart spaces that they'll be much more easy to connect to the local network. Ah, to be discovered by other things that might be their hubs and voice assistance and that type of thing and and the user experience would be better. So um, you know I think we we all have some experience I'm sure of iot devices and bringing home plugging them in and and. You you know if there are wi-fi devices you have to go set up ah access points and you change your phone around to go join the access points of the smart plug you just plugged in then give it your wi-fi credentials then switch back over like this terrible user experience. Um, and it's fraught with ah with errors and everything else I think matter. I you know should make that much more seamless so that a regular old consumer. Ah you know my mother-in-law or whatever can can ah can take a thing out out of out of the box and plug it in and with just some very simple couple of steps that has no knowledge of how networking really works.

 

16:08.33

Kent Dickson

Um, ah, basically as it connected and functioning the way that they want it to so that's going to be a boon but then the other the other piece that I think at the end of the day is really also going to accelerate ah adoption of smart devices and not just it's easier for consumers to acquire them and get them connected. Um. But but for folks who are creating solutions. Ah, ah to to be able to do that a little bit easier and of course we've been working on this layer to make that easier for software developers that still is very much required even in this in this world. Um, but but 1 of the things that I think is is. Is interesting and maybe below the ah below the sort of nerdy level that that maybe a lot of the audience cares about ah but ah, the notion of ip addressability of of devices is going to be. You know it's going to tear down more of these. Um. These barriers I think you know and these you know proprietary or not proprietary. But just you know non ip types of things zigby and Zwave and in Bluetooth and whatnot. Um, ah once ah, devices are ip addressable. Um, and you basically just go through a regular old router in the smart space ah to to do all the plumbing for that stuff. Um, it makes it easier and so it kind of gives us the best of both worlds of kind of all the great things that we all know and love about wi-fi um, but it's kind of a power hungry ah type.

 

17:42.26

Kent Dickson

Type of technology. Um and all the great things that we know and love about Zigb and zwave being a low power type of thing and bringing Ip across a whole of those things is what this technology called thread is is doing right now and and I think the outcome. And the long term will be really great for ah for consumers for solution developers for property owners and all that that is a long-winded way to answer your question. Um, but.

 

18:16.21

Kent Dickson

But I but I think all that stuff is is ultimately pretty relevant here.

 

18:18.31

rkgaulden

Yeah I think so my main takeaway from that because I I have read quite a bit around you know matter and and then you know next people start bringing thread into the conversation I think if I were to put a capstone on that it feels like if we're going to accelerate Adoption. Of all of these sensors and devices getting to a true plug and play for these next Gen Devices is what matter and ultimately threat are going to help us get to alleviating all those frustrations that that some of us most certainly have felt when. We thought things should be plug and play and and they truly are not spending way too much time on the on the web trying to figure out how to make this thing work or calling a friend or calling tech support and and just burning out right? versus you know, just the ability to activate the device if that. Requires turning it on and then things just work. You know I think from that perspective it feels like those are the next big hurdles. Most certainly sounds like you guys are are involved in helping solve that and then bring that into the partnerships that you're creating whether again, it's you know technologists that are. Ah, tackling smart home or smart apartment or smart building or smart spaces feels like you're a necessary layer. Um, well I appreciate you being on the call today I Guess for me the main takeaway from from a you Knowmi perspective is I'd like the term plumbing right.

 

19:50.83

rkgaulden

You guys are are doing all that backend plumbing to enable those technology partners to focus in on their core values again. Whether that's delivering an amazing resonant experience or iterating on their on their software to allow ownership to them make adoption a lot easier and there's. Freedom and choice right? I don't have to spend time now integrating to 4 or 5 different thermostats to make my business. Go forward I could do 1 integration and you know me's going to take care of that for me and at the end of the day I think that then drives that adoption that that we're looking for in the space.

 

20:28.75

Kent Dickson

Yeah,, that's that's exactly right? I I think that that's going to accelerate things quite a bit as well and and ah you know plumbing I'm I'm glad you like the term Plumbing. It's not very sexy. Um, ah, but at the end of the day. It's It's what really makes the user experiences possible. Um, and I think you know ah it unleashes you know the innovation ah that that is really going to move the needle in in this smart space. Ah, business because they're there are people you know much more creative and and and and and smart and visionary than than than we are here. Ah ah, who can kind of envision how to make things smoother or more efficient or more enjoyable for end users. And we want them to put all their effort behind that and less and less Unpluing. So we'll take it. We'll so we'll take care of that stuff.

 

21:26.32

rkgaulden

So maybe 1 last question related to that then is is this where some of the complexities of all the different apis that are out there slow things down as well and are you guys contributing to managing that.

 

21:40.76

Kent Dickson

Oh absolutely And that's yeah, that's that's largely what I mean by plumbing. Ah, but but yeah without a doubt. Um you know this is this is a path. We've been on for a very long time.

 

21:54.61

Kent Dickson

Of of course the Apis ah through which all these third -party devices are made available are all quite different from 1 another um and and that's why it's such a barrier for folks to go integrate with more than one and.

 

22:13.70

Kent Dickson

Ah, so so yeah we live that night nightmare if you will every day. Um, ah and and essentially abstracted away. Um, but it's not just the apis themselves. It's the relationships ah with those vendors as well because you know we're all technology providers. We're all. Ah. Supporting these cloud environments. We're all implementing security and stuff and there's a fair amount of you know, high-touch relationship that needs to happen amongst that ecosystem of folks. Um, so yes, we're writing code there but we're also making agreements and and we're communicating about upcoming changes and where. Ah, doing all that stuff and so that's why you know it's just it's it's really just a mountain of of responsibility for any individual solution provider to try to achieve that same thing we we can do that because it is our core business and and ah.

 

23:10.77

Kent Dickson

We we have accepted that fate.

 

23:12.31

rkgaulden

So in summary I would say at the end of the day you know me may not be the front end brand that some of these property managers and owners are are making key decisions on but at the end of the day if you're working in the back end with their technology partners. You're certainly going to make it a lot easier for them to make those decisions.

 

23:22.83

Kent Dickson

Um, no.

 

23:32.60

rkgaulden

And if someone wanted to learn a little bit more about you know me where can they find some information.

 

23:37.39

Kent Dickson

Um, you know we've got ah we've got a really great developer site. This is how folks our our customers and partners normally start engaging with this is going to our developer site and. Reading our Docs and ah and and starting to do you know some pocc development there. They could basically kind of get get started right out of the jump and and it's it's super easy. Um, it's ah it's called developers dot you knowme dot com is the is the developer portal. You know me spelled y o n o m i. Um, and ah give it a look. Um and there's some other great sort of content out there that we've created not just you know technical content. But yeah, a lot of contextual stuff about what's happening in the marketplace.

 

24:21.30

rkgaulden

Thanks! Very good. So thanks for spending some time with me today appreciated having you on the podcast and looking forward to chatting again in the future. Thank you so I'll keep it recording. Did we miss anything are there any other major highlights you guys wanted to.

 

24:30.90

Kent Dickson

Um, real pleasure. Thank you.

 

24:39.50

rkgaulden

Grab so.

 

24:40.44

Elyssa Pallai

Um I would just say that Greg is going to kill us if we don't say reach out to you know me sales on you know we dot com. There's a giant sales button. Um, if you're coming from the business side of things. Um, and then I just didn't know if I know.

 

24:45.41

rkgaulden

Okay.

 

24:53.60

rkgaulden

So.

 

24:58.37

Elyssa Pallai

Um, Kent obviously touched on like thread and matter and all that kind of stuff. But if you wanted to actually ask the question around macro trends that you mentioned earlier I don't know if we've already covered all that offer.

 

25:09.40

rkgaulden

We we? Yeah, we're yeah yeah, we're up about twenty plus minutes so I think we can have kent back on for sure. Um I'll figure out how we can also put into your descriptor. The good.

 

25:10.88

Kent Dickson

Um I did sort of touch on that. Yeah.

 

25:26.28

rkgaulden

We could splice in you can also reach us at if you want to splice it in. We can put reach us at ah you know me sales or whatever that is yeah, you want to you want to? Okay, you want to you want to just reiterate that and I'll splice that in right after the developer site.

 

25:29.91

Elyssa Pallai

You know we dot com. Yeah yo know we dot com contact sales.

 

25:41.60

Kent Dickson

Sure should.

 

25:44.86

rkgaulden

So at at your leisure So I'll ah I'll stop right now and then you can go.

 

25:54.90

Kent Dickson

And then to actually talk talk with a person and yeah, get some assistance with ah, kind of figuring out what the solution might look like solution architecture. Um, you just go to the regular Unomi.com site and there's a big. Contact us button on there. Um, and ah and our folks are super responsive So Please hit that up too.

 

26:17.29

rkgaulden

We Okay, great. We'll splice that in before I we do the thank yous in the pleasantries. So we're very good, pretty easy right? Good appreciate spending some time. What's that yeah.

 

26:22.36

Kent Dickson

Um, kept that great.

 

26:23.25

Elyssa Pallai

Thanks guys. That's awesome. That was so much fun being in production again. Just just in production like doing something like actually producing something. That's fun.

 

26:38.49

rkgaulden

Yeah, no I get it I'll ah I'll give you guys a heads up. Um.

 

26:43.81

Elyssa Pallai

Awesome job Kent.

 

26:50.99

Kent Dickson

Um, yeah, no I can hear you.

 

26:52.32

rkgaulden

You hear me am I a robot now. Apparently even if you turn off? Oh thanks. Even if you turn off your device. That's not connected via Bluetooth. The amber alert comes through and that's interesting. Um, yeah I really kind of took me for a shock.

 

26:52.64

Elyssa Pallai

We can hear you an awesome job. The 2 of you that was great.

 

27:05.47

Kent Dickson

Um, ah, interesting.

 

27:10.11

rkgaulden

Ah I appreciate that I appreciate you jumping on the show as well. I'll need a a logo and a a hit chat. Um and and we'll do all the mockup stuff and then I'll give you guys a heads up on when we plan to to release this one so we're gonna push it out on our social but you guys do. On the marketer on your side that'd be awesome. Um, and I think we'll probably have it somewhere in the mid to late October cycle somewhere in there. So.

 

27:39.11

Elyssa Pallai

Okay, I'll um I'll get you the logo in the head shot and I have about a 70% hit rate of getting things of top of Google so if there's certain things that you want to rank for yeah's like you want to rank for a multifamily or just send me some keywords and.

 

27:39.70

Kent Dickson

Um, awesome.

 

27:44.69

rkgaulden

I Yeah I taking full advantage of that. Yeah ok sounds good. All right, Very good. So thanks have a great weekend.

 

27:55.30

Elyssa Pallai

I'll do my best get you some traffic.

 

27:58.75

Kent Dickson

Great! Thanks guys. You too. Let's see. But.

 

28:04.32

rkgaulden

Yeah bye.