As many of your readers probably know, the idea behind technologies like Zigbee and ZWave is to simplify the installation process for users and installers. For our Zigbee systems, devices are automatically recognized by the CUBE controller and can be added or removed in a matter of a few seconds. The Z-Wave products are similarly easy, but can be integrated into ecosystems of products under certified Z-Wave Alliance controllers.

Interview - Wireless Home Automation Devices

Sean Kang | Frostdale

Interview - Wireless Home Automation Devices

Author: Sean Kang, Frostdale

As many of your readers probably know, the idea behind technologies like Zigbee and ZWave is to simplify the installation process for users and installers. For our Zigbee systems, devices are automatically recognized by the CUBE controller and can be added or removed in a matter of a few seconds. The Z-Wave products are similarly easy, but can be integrated into ecosystems of products under certified Z-Wave Alliance controllers.

 

Frostdale recently received a design award for its wireless switches. Why was the design element a focus of the development process?

Design is important for several reasons. Of course, we wanted to give customers something that they’d enjoy looking at every day. But we also tried bring users into experience of home control by offering a substantial touch and feel to the product via a raised, functional switchplate. The design itself was inspired by traditional art and architecture here in Korea. So, it does also come with a story. And today it seems like more and more people are looking for products that not only deliver innovative features and functionality, but that they can get to know; that they have some connection with.

 

When will Frostdale products be available to North American consumers?

We are currently in discussions with several reputable distributors to make our products available to North American consumers.

Initially, customers will probably have access to our Z-Wave lighting controls and, as the year goes on, additional products will be made available for export. We hope to see our controllers and security sensors in your readers’ homes before the end of 2011.

 

How do you view the home automation industry in 2011?

The outlook in 2011 is very positive. We’re certainly seeing a strong trend toward IP based protocols, and the disappearance of a lot of proprietary technologies. For DIY consumers, this means the availability of more adaptive and affordable solutions. Integrators may also see a whole new area of business open up as smaller jobs that once required a great deal of customization can now be done more efficiently and at a profit.

On another note, the overwhelming popularity of devices like the iPad is having a big impact. On the consumer side, the devices provide a really positive reference point for the home automation experience. And from a manufacturer’s perspective, more innovative, more comprehensive systems can be offered at a lower cost to the consumer.

 

Frostdale is based in Seoul, Korea. What perspective can you provide on the industry outside of the United States?

Here in Korea, home and building automation has really caught on out of necessity. With prices for resources higher than in some other parts of the world, there’s a very practical element to reducing energy consumption.

From our partners and associates, we know that in many places, like India, for example, architects and builders are looking to deliver new constructions with energy saving features built-in.

 

How easy is it for the average consumer to integrate your products into their home systems?

As many of your readers probably know, the idea behind technologies like Zigbee and ZWave is to simplify the installation process for users and installers. For our Zigbee systems, devices are automatically recognized by the CUBE controller and can be added or removed in a matter of a few seconds. The Z-Wave products are similarly easy, but can be integrated into ecosystems of products under certified Z-Wave Alliance controllers.

 

Your products include some unique features, what benefit might these provide to installers or end users?

We’re seeing a very strong trend now toward home energy monitoring as well as providing cost and usage data to every consumer. Our Z-Wave switches incorporate built-in power meters that can be paired with select certified controllers to do this more accurately and effectively.

They also include built-in temperature sensors, and the real benefit of these might not be as immediately apparent. In most homes, heating and cooling is between 40 to 50 percent of yearly utility costs. Because there’s probably at least one light switch in every room, we are confident that this feature is going to become an essential element in some really intelligent HVAC systems.

 

Are there any specific wiring requirements for a North American installation of your lighting control devices?

No. Our switches are designed for compliance with NEC guidelines and use a standard three
wire configuration. The casing is also built to fit the North American standard size single switch
box.

So, in short, users should be able to swap out their current switches with our wireless models in
no more than a few minutes. Although if they are unfamiliar with the installation process, we do
recommend consulting a trained professional.

 

In general terms, how much energy can be saved with lighting control?

Well, one of the most practical ways to talk about energy savings is probably in terms of cost.
Though, of course, there are other benefits as well.

For homeowners, lighting constitutes roughly 22 percent of total energy use. So, if average
costs are somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,700 per year, Americans are paying roughly
$600 to light their homes.

Lighting control can help to reduce this figure in a few different ways.

First, and probably most obviously, lighting controls with remote access and programmable
features make it really easy to ensure that lighting isn’t being used unnecessarily.

For example, let’s say that of the 40 light bulbs in the average home, that in a typical month
each one is used for a single hour unnecessarily. This might be because someone has left
it on after leaving the room or that natural light could be utilized instead. Eliminating just that
one hour for each bulb, assuming that they’re 100 watts, could save in the range of $15 to $20
dollars per month depending on where you live.

Building on that topic, the integration of today’s lighting controls with devices like the iPhone and
iPad offers a convenient way to illustrate how energy is being used in the home and where it’s
wasted. This information, studies have shown, can have a transformative effect on behavior.
In one prominent study in the UK, when direct feedback about energy usage was provided via
graphical, in-home displays, consumers were able to reduce costs between 5 and 15 percent
through behavioral modifications alone. What’s more, high energy users were also more likely to
make significant reductions than low energy users.

So, there are a lot of factors to consider, but providing users with feedback about their energy
usage, how it compares to those around them, and doing it via devices they already use has the
potential to create big savings for consumers as well as communities.

 

Are there other devices and systems that you are working on for release in the near future?

Well, we don’t want to give away too much information at this point. But the basic idea is that we will continue to pursue products that extend our current lineup by offering more control, security, and energy saving features to end users while bringing our dealer and distribution partners competitive advantage.

 

Mr. Sean Kang founded Frostdale in 2007 with the aim of providing effective, simplified home
automation and energy management solutions. His background is in software engineering with
experience at several multinational technology companies.

Based in the technology hub of Seoul, Korea, Frostdale currently offers a range of lighting
controls and security products based on the popular Z-Wave and Zigbee protocols. The
products, designed for use in residential and light commercial settings, incorporate a range of
intuitive features for enhanced convenience and energy efficiency.

Frostdale’s products have recently been recognized for design and usability by Korea’s 2010
Presidential Good Design Committee and have received the 2011 red dot award for product
design.

 

 


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