Can you provide a short background on your company, your role and your product?
I am the founder and CEO of Uni-Cocloud, a company focused on the design, research and development of smart home and office ecosystems called COSTONE Home and COSTONE Enterprise. These products combine smart technology automation management, network routers for seamless Wi-Fi and secure local and private cloud storage. We are based in Beijing, China and have been in business there since 2015. The next exciting step in our company journey is making our products available in the United States in Q3 of this year.
As far as my role, in addition to overseeing the overall strategy and direction of the company, I lead a very talented team of engineers to build and enhance the COSTONE product family. Every day we’re looking for better solutions for adapting various smart home devices to promote this notion of a “simplified life” for our customers. We want to make their lives easier and more enjoyable and to see them achieve that has been the most rewarding part of my role.
What are the advantages of having a smart home ecosystem?
COSTONE is unique in that it meets the demands for three functions all in one device—smart automation, Wi-Fi connectivity and data storage/security. By eliminating the need for multiple systems and apps, we’re saving the customer both time and money and creating a smart experience that is much more integrated and easier to control. We like to think of it like the brain of the home, speaking to and controlling everything in your smart home from one system.
What gaps does COSTONE Home address in the smart home tech space?
In today’s growing smart tech market, there’s a critical need for a system that not only integrates the control of these devices but also supports the heavy network, file sharing and storage demands of a true smart home or office environment. We recognized a gap in the market for such a product, which is why we developed COSTONE Home and Enterprise to bring the concept of a fully integrated, easier to use smart home or office within grasp of the smart home enthusiast or small to medium-sized business owner. It is also an open platform, meaning it is compatible with nearly all protocols and systems and will work with nearly all of your existing smart devices like smart lighting, locks, alarm system, motion sensors, speakers, appliances and more!
We debuted our products at CES in Las Vegas this year and were pleased to find that the U.S. market understands the value of our products well. That makes us very excited and we hope to continue to expand our business partnerships in the future for even greater technology integration.
What would a typical system be composed of in terms of hardware and software?
The COSTONE Home system consists of an AC and AP. The AC is the "Intelligent Information Box”, which serves as the central piece of hardware for the ecosystem. It is equipped with a dual-band gigabit Wi-Fi router, and local private cloud storage (1TB to 10TB capacity depending on chosen configuration), enabling an entire household to securely share photos, video and files. The system is also fortified with the highest level of data security and comes equipped with firewall software, a built-in encryption chip on the core module as well as end-to-end data encryption software to protect data transmission and maximize data security. It’s available in a variety of colors including white, silver, champagne gold and mint gold, with a sleek appearance that matches many décor styles.
The Intelligent Information Box speaks with APs or “Wireless Access Points” which support 2.4G and 5G wireless systems with the maximum rate of up to 3000 Mbps. The blanket Wi-Fi coverage serves up to 10,700 square feet with no signal dead zones in the home so you’ll have the same signal strength throughout.
Then, everything is controlled through our very intuitive COSTONE app, where they can customize the smart devices and scenarios to suite their individual lifestyle needs and preferences for automation.
Does the system require professional installation or can the homeowner do it him/herself?
For COSTONE Home, we will provide a manual for those DIY users. We will also have a certified professional team for those who would prefer support. After installation is complete, the user can then intuitively control the entire system from the COSTONE app on their Android or iOS system phones. It’s really easy to navigate, explore and control the entire home right from your smart device.
What do you find most exciting about smart home technology being developed today?
Because today’s technology is more open and able to speak more easily with one another, it’s now possible for today’s developers to break down the barriers of different protocol languages and build a truly open smart home ecosystem—that’s the most exciting part for me! By doing so we can provide more possibilities to those interested in creating a smart home, helping to meet their needs and simplify their life.
What advice would you give to consumers who are either just starting to dabble in the smart home tech space or for those who are early adopter tech enthusiasts already?
For those who are just starting out, I would encourage them to think about tasks they do every day that they wish could be made simpler or more enjoyable because there is likely a smart device that can do that. The best part about smart technology is that it’s personal so the options are endless for customization. Talk to you your friends, do your own research and find out what excites you most to try out. Like me, you’ll probably be hooked in now time! For those who are already early adopter tech enthusiasts, I would like to encourage them to explore our product. COSTONE Home speaks with nearly all device protocols and systems which means that it can help you more easily manage all of the devices you’re already using, in addition to the Wi-Fi and data security/storage functions I mentioned previously.
What smart home products do you personally use in your own home?
I’ve been a smart technology enthusiast for many years! In my house the lights, speakers, curtains and HVAC system are integrated into the COSTONE Home platform. I also love traveling and sharing my photos and videos from my trips with family anytime anywhere, which is why I integrated this feature into the design of the COSTONE Home product so others could do the same.
How is the small business version of your system different than the home version?
The COSTONE Enterprise system offers many of the same components that the Home version does—smart device control/management, seamless Wi-Fi and data storage/security. However it also gives small and medium businesses access to advanced IT infrastructure that automates processes and eliminates labor-intensive IT tasks as well as creates a more collaborative environment through data sharing, work synchronization and remote access. In addition to this, what differentiates it from the COSTONE Home version is:
Design: Unlike COSTONE Home which is hard wired into the wall of a home, COSTONE Enterprise’s hard drive can sit on a table top. Knowing that small business office space often grows or needs to be flexible, we designed the Enterprise Intelligent Server to be portable and moved when needed to accommodate this.
Storage/Security: Knowing the volume of information being shared by a business, the storage potential on the Enterprise version is also larger, offering dual hard drives to save and back up data.
About Haihua Chen
Haihua Chen (age 39) was born in the Liaoning Province of China. He graduated from Dalian Jiaotong University in 2002, where he majored in computer science and technology. He started his first business in 2005 and quickly took hold of his entrepreneurial spirit, creating a number of companies over the next 10 years. In 2015 he established “Uni-CoCloud" (COSTONE). Over the years he has been focused on the research, development and design of IoT devices and applications.