A new smart home controller, the B.One Hub, has been launched on the Australian market with the claim that it offers a number of features that differentiate it from competing products, such as those from Apple and Google.

The B.One Hub is the only one on the market with support for infrared communications enabling it to control a huge range of products such as air conditioners, TVs, sound systems that use infrared remote controllers, according to Anup Raghavan, CEO of the device’s Australian and New Zealand distributor, Accumulus Energy Group.

Furthermore, Raghavan told IoT Hub that the infrared remote control functions of 27,000 products had been replicated in the B.One Hub, enabling these devices to be controlled from its associated smartphone app.

“We have walked into places and taken control of their air conditioner in minutes, where they have not had control for ages because they could not get a replacement remote,” he said.

Another key differentiator was that the B.One Hub does not have separate user and programming interfaces. “You don’t need an electrician to come in and program the system using a computer in the back end. Everything is done through one simple user interface,” he said.

A third differentiator and ease-of-use feature WASs the use of chatbots. “We have just announced a beta version of a chatbot integration and we are also releasing a version using Facebook Messenger,” Raghavan said.

The B.One Hub was developed by Blaze Automation, a company with R&D facilities in New Jersey, USA, and Hyderabad, India. Raghavan said Accumulus Energy had secured the rights to be the technical and distribution partner for the B.One Hub in Australia and New Zealand, in October 2016 after he had been introduced to Blaze Automation on a South Australian Government sponsored trade mission to India.

Accumulus now has 120 installations across Australia, 25 electricians trained to install a system based on the B.One, a customer experience centre in Melbourne and residential apartment in Bondi Automated using the B.One Hub.

“We have five or six experience centres around the country, and that number will grow,” Raghavan said. “We are also working with builders to showcase the B.one in their display homes.”

He said a two or three bedroom home would require about 25 devices to fully automate and could be completed in about two days.

Accumulus is looking for partners to help take the product to market, and is particularly keen to have one of the mobile operators take on the product because the B.One has the potential to be controlled from a smart phone directly over a mobile network, rather than WiFi and the Internet as at present.

The B.One has cellular functionality built in but at present uses cellular only to send a text message if its internet connection fails.

“We have the software for two way communications and we are looking for a partner like a Vodafone or a Telstra to be able to roll this out as a service,” Raghavan said.

 “We have not had much luck yet but New Zealand seems to be more receptive to us than Australia.”