Integrating a hardware with communication capabilities can be instrumental in creating life-changing health, wellness, safety, and security products. Taking the thought forward, Unified Inbox — a UCaaS (Unified Communication as a Service) company — has signed an MoU with Chinese communication major Oviphone to integrate the former’s Internet of Communication (IoC) platform, UnificationEngine, into the latter’s wearables (read smartwatches).
Toby Ruckert, CEO, Unified Inbox said, “Using UnificationEngine to enable Oviphone’s wearables to post on the communications channels people use most, creates the Internet of Communications for the Internet of Things (IoT) on your wrist!”
UnificationEngine is a platform that makes it possible for developers to integrate multiple communication channels using a single API. It features a collection of pre-built connectors that allow developers to add specific communication services such as (but not limited to) Email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, SMS, Weibo and Xing to applications. The platform also allows developers to build custom connectors for communication services and web services that are not yet available as pre-built connectors and require standard APIs respectively. Developers can choose to sell custom connectors in the UnificationEngine marketplace or make them available as open source.
Wearables that can ‘save lives’
The MoU with Oviphone would introduce smart devices which include “watches” for human applications and “collars” for animal applications which will serve as real-time trackers integrated with easy communication.
Imagine a child gone missing at school. Or a mother leading an independent life and suddenly falling ill. Would one rather wait until someone notices or have emergency services notified immediately? The “smartwatch” powered with the UnificationEngine would be equipped to handle such crises where instant notifications about the child’s movements or mother’s health trigger away.
Oviphone is not limiting the usage of technology to human beings. It is hoping to extend it to livestock as well in form of animal collars. These collars can trigger a notification about the animal’s illness. Jack Wu, CEO of Shanghai headquartered, Oviphone, stated, “UnificationEngine-powered Oviphone solutions will help to save lives — when children go missing, when seniors fall, and when animals get sick or hurt.”
So, who is the end user?
UnificationEngine already has strong use cases for distribution and fleet management. With Oviphone, the initial use cases would be focused on health, wellness, safety, and security for children, seniors, and animals. However, it intends to extend this to distribution and delivery use case with Oviphone for the transportation of live animals where their environment and their health could be continually monitored, tracked, and recorded. It anticipates the solutions to be purchased in bulk (B2B) by schools, nursing and care centers, and animal centers (farms/breeders).
So the bottom line is while the MoU is primarily focused on consumers, the technology is largely being targeted at enterprise (B2B2C) customers.
While the company is not constraining its products to any specific geographical location, it sees Asia and the Middle East as its strong initial markets.
Decoding the aspects of the integration
For existing customers of Oviphone, the integration of UnificationEngine would initially be done on demand. Eventually, it will be a default capability across the company’s full range of wearables.
When asked about the prerequisites Unified Inbox had to consider for issues like a company/individual broaching, privacy-related concerns or leaking of private data, Toby Ruckert said, “Like with any potential business partner, we looked at Oviphone’s products, technologies, roadmaps, current customers and markets, and of course business plan. That said, it still comes down to doing business with people you trust, respect, and knowing that both of you will benefit greatly from the relationship.”
The cost of the Oviphone wearable will not increase because of the addition of UnificationEngine messaging technology. So, two services at the cost of one!
Is IoT the next ‘big game’?
After the recent proposals and launches at the Mobile World Congress (the MoU between Unified Inbox and Oviphone was signed at MWC), it is undeniable that businesses and the manufacturing and finance sectors are more than keen to adopt IoT to simplify their tasks. Unified Inbox believes that the day is already here when IoT has paved its way to everyday functioning of businesses as well consumers.
Ken Herron, CMO, Unified Inbox, said, “I look around my living room, and I see an Amazon Echo and a Nest thermostat. I have multiple smart appliances, wear a fitness band, and tried on a pair of smart sneakers/trainers last weekend. From my perspective, the IoT market is behaving much like the tablet market — I see consumer adoption driving business adoption. How long will it take? It’s here today at both the business and consumer level.”
But are service developers yet to make this long leap? Ken replied:
“IoT has been described as a world-changing revolution akin to the creation of the internet. I would suggest that the more relevant question is not whether service providers are ready for it, but who will be able to best leverage the radical new opportunities IoT creates, and Unified Inbox and Oviphone are partnering with each other to do just that.”
The road ahead
While Unified Inbox is a cloud-based social IoT/unified communication platform focused on simplifying communications, it considers itself to be platform-agnostic, welcoming relationships with Android, iOS, and proprietary OS wearables manufacturers.
Oviphone has a full range of wearables, from value-priced models emphasizing durability and low cost to stylish, luxury models hand-crafted in precious metals, and as with all manufactured products, volume pricing would apply. While the price of the products is yet to be disclosed in the market, the initial Oviphone powered by UnificationEngine solutions would be launched for sale later this year.