One distinguishing feature of our company’s offering is that there is no subscription fee, service fee, or system installation requirement for using the hardware or connection capability.

Smart Home Interview - SmartenIt

Al Choperena | SmartenIt

Give us some background on Smartenit?

Smartenit Inc. began when CEO, Al Choperena, was looking to manage irrigation of a remote property in Central California.  When looking for an irrigation controller to do the job he realized that existing controllers either A) couldn’t do what he wanted or B) were prohibitively expensive.  So he made what was to be our EZFlora (still sold to this day!).

From there we started building our device ecosystem around the home and beyond, bringing us to today, when we are considered a complete connected-home solution provider.  So we offer the hardware, software, and network access that combine to form a harmonious ecosystem that is accessible from anywhere.  In terms of hardware, we manufacture devices to control home elements like lighting, irrigation, climate control, monitoring, water management, energy management, and more.  In terms of connectivity, we offer a cloud server that makes gateway discovery and remote connection a breeze.  A major differentiation is that our cloud service is not essential to operate the system as all processing including a powerful automation engine is built into the gateway. 

For interfacing and interacting with the system, we offer our iSmartenit application for Free!  It’s available on iOS/ Android mobile platforms as well as on PC in browser or desktop forms.  The app lets users take advantage of our gateways’ powerful logic engine to create those programs and device interactions that are critical to a truly smart home. 

One distinguishing feature of our company’s offering is that there is no subscription fee, service fee, or system installation requirement for using the hardware or connection capability.  This allows a lot of flexibility for users as they can address needs a la carte and experiment as much as they want without worrying about being nickel and dimed.  All the functionality of the Smartenit ecosystem is available to them from the very beginning. 

Which technologies do your products use to communicate with each other and how does it work?

We originally began supporting X10, and INSTEON and then expanded to ZigBee (Both Home Automation and Smart Energy profiles) and WiFi/ IP devices. We currently manufacture devices using INSTEON, ZigBee and Cellular IP protocols while we have support for all the protocols previously mentioned.

INSTEON is an RF and powerline protocol that employs signal repetition to help strengthen the network.  Devices repeat messages, making it much more likely that a signal gets to its intended target. 

ZigBee is a wireless technology based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard.  It is low power and employs mesh networking which means that devices on the system may route messages so that the originator and target do not need to be in direct communication with each other.  This effectively increases the coverage and integrity of the entire network.       

Do your products communicate with products from other manufacturers using a standard protocol? (which ones)

From the very beginning we have been especially dogged in our approach to create an open ecosystem.  Our gateways and hubs are built on an open architecture that was designed specifically so that that adding support for third party devices is as easy as possible.  We have had instances where customers request support for a particular device and by the end of the day we have it up and running on our demo gateway and are having fun controlling it in the office.

Likewise, we create our smart plugs, pool controllers, irrigation controllers and switches with the idea in mind that they should be able to become a part of anyone's network.  We are, of course, biased and maintain that our gateways and hubs are the best around but we don't feel the need to tie our devices to them.  If someone wants to use one of our devices in their home, we don't want to be the ones who stop them!

Specifically, we support 3rd party devices using INSTEON, ZigBee HA, ZigBee SE and WiFi/ IP from manufacturers like Yale, Kwikset, 3M, Belkin, Centralite, DLink, TrendNet, TCP, Phillips Hue, Itron, Silver Springs Networks and more.  To see our ever expanding list of supported devices, you can go to http://smartenit.com/supported-devices/.

What types of devices do you manufacture or provide?

 

  • Hubs
  • Controllers
  • Network Devices
  • Software / Apps
  • Security Devices
  • Lighting and Automation Devices
  • HVAC / Energy Management Devices
  • Entertainment System Control Devices
  • Water management - leak detection
  • Irrigation

Can your products be installed by the homeowner or are special skills and tools required?

Our devices are created with a DIY focus so a normal user could install them.  Things like smart plugs and range extenders are literally plug and play.  However, we do recommend that a licensed electrician be used to install our in-wall units such as the ZBMSKT1 smart outlet or the ZBMLC15/ ZBLC15/ ZBMLC30 load controllers. 

Once physically installed, commissioning is a breeze and our gateways facilitate automatic discovery through the free iSmartenit app.  Configuration and control is also done through the app and is doable by anyone! 

In a short paragraph or 2 please describe how your products fit into a Smart Home scenario and how they are set up to work together to perform automated tasks.

Our devices cover many areas such as water management, energy management, lighting, and climate control so they can form the entire home automation network.  A user starts with a Smartenit gateway or hub such as our newest, the Harmony G1 which is also a smart TV box that is configurable to control ZigBee, INSTEON, and WiFi devices.  Multi-protocol support means users have plenty of devices from which to choose.  For lighting they can use ZBMPlug15 smart plugs, ZBMSKT1 smart outlets, ZBMLC15, and ZBLC15 load controllers.  For water management they might want a ZBVC1 valve controller, a ZBMLC30 for a pool pump, or a RainBee16 for the lawn sprinklers.  Noteworthy is the fact that most of our load controllers report energy consumption data.  A user can also employ various sensors like ZBMS3 for motion, ZBHT2 for temperature, and ZBWDS for window and door status.

These devices can all be controlled directly via the iSmartenit app.  But where the real power comes in is creating custom programs, timers, and device interactions which is all handled by the gateway.  A scenario can be created where the hallway lights controlled by a ZBLC15 will turn on when the ZBWDS senses a door opened.  Sprinklers can run preset programs on particular days based on local sunrise or sunset times.  Energy consumption is reduced by running the pool pump at low speed for part of its cycle.  Users are even able to use individual device energy consumption as a threshold cut off or trigger for other devices.  The system is designed to be flexible, customizable and fully interactive so that the user can create the system they want.  

Al Choperena

Before starting Smartenit, Al Choperena had leading roles as senior executive at DuPont, Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson in R&D, Business Development and Operations.  At those companies he was a primary mover in the creation of businesses that today have combined yearly sales in excess of $5 billion.

Al is an electrical engineer with expertise in control systems and telecommunications. Following a successful corporate career in medical devices, he turned his energy as an entrepreneur to extend the promise of wireless communications and the “Internet of Things”. He founded Smartenit to implement his vision of a seamless automation framework for modern homes and buildings using the latest advances in wireless networks.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and has attended numerous professional programs at distinguished universities including Pennsylvania/Wharton and Michigan schools of business.

Links

Website: http://smartenit.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/smartenit

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SmartenIt

 

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