Collaboration with startups brings sustainability to Smart Home solutions

Smart watches make it easier for people who like to participate in sports. But that doesn’t mean that everybody with a Smart watch plays more sports, right?

It’s really the gamification and achievement system included on the watch that drives the new mindset and change of habit that makes the watch successful at what it’s supposed to do – support participation in sports. We’ve got the first part down; it’s the second part, changing mindsets and habits, where we need help.

The same can be said about smart homes. The technology in smart dwellings that drives energy efficiency becomes even more relevant when looking through the lens of issues like climate change. But without making people inhabiting these homes aware of the need to counter the causes of climate change and getting them to change their habits, the smart technology itself will never solve the problem. If a system is inconvenient, difficult to use or people don’t feel motivated to use it correctly, they will override it and its benefits will never see the light of day.

To get a fresh perspective on ways to overcome this and other challenges, we launched our first Electrification Virtual Startup challenge, where startups from across the globe were invited to showcase their ideas and solutions for three different tasks. The strength of startups is in developing innovative software solutions and products and adapting them quickly. Combine this with many years of experience in smart technology and hardware from large technology groups such as ABB, and you form the perfect basis for collaboration. With collaboration between manufacturers of building automation and start-ups, completely “new” holistic solutions can arise.

The main goal of our Smart Home task was to look for innovative solutions to enhance the ABB-free@home® offering by lowering the energy footprint, engaging and supporting the end-users to employ sustainable behaviors, and enhancing their habits.

The winner of the challenge was Mavenoid, a Swedish computer software company that innovates technical support automation. During the 10-day event they made a proof of concept to integrate their solution into the ABB-Free@home® offering, which has great potential to minimize maintenance, saving time and resources. Mavenoid won partly because they showed us ways to truly engage users and change their energy consumption habits by suggesting to them the real-life and instantly applicable energy saving measures provided by ABB-free@home®.

It was a privilege for me to make this smart innovation journey possible for these emerging talents. Coaching start-ups is a time-consuming yet extremely rewarding task, which has resulted in a great learning experience for all participants. We are looking forward to deepening the engagement with Mavenoid and other startups, as we are convinced that collaboration and focusing on how we can use open platforms and interoperability will truly impact lives, society and industry, transforming new ideas into real value for communities around the world.

Jan P. Schaefer

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About the author

Jan P. Schäfer

I am part of the Global Product Management team of the division Smart Buildings. I am collaborating with lots of great people inside ABB but furthermore with great and professional partners around the globe to transform our offering into overall tailormade solutions. Therefore establishing a digital mindset, driving open interfaces to our products and developing and launching on-top services and application are one of the major key factors. I am really proud to be part of such an innovative Division and market, as Smart Homes and Smart Buildings are one of the most rapidly growing markets and technologies today. I also like to follow the latest technical trends in private life and to try them out. In my free time I like to enjoy nature on extensive hikes and going kayaking or having some fun time with family and friends.
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