Wi- Fi smart plug to con­nect with users

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY RAG­GATT

A GROUP of Townsville in­vestors might have hit the jack­pot with the in­ven­tion of a fairly sim­ple Wi- Fi en­abled smart plug that alerts peo­ple to power fail­ures.

Cer­tainly, they are about to find out with the sales launch this week of what is called a Power Out­age Alert Sys­tem or PWRON in New Zealand and Aus­tralia.

“We have had in­ter­est from big buy­ing groups,” PWRON co- founder Tim Pel­le­grino said.

“One of the ma­jor na­tional re­tail­ers wants to take us on. ( But) we want to crawl be­fore we fly.”

They have cre­ated a web­site ( pwron. com. au), started on­line sales and have posted some tes­ti­mo­ni­als from sup­port­ive busi­nesses in­clud­ing Townsville Gram­mar School, Terry White Chemists Townsville and Domino’s Pizza.

Launch­zone op­er­a­tor Adam Lam, Odyssey on the Strand restau­ra­teur Neal Duff and Mr Pel­le­grino are be­hind the ven­ture.

“We have all been busi­ness own­ers,” Mr Pel­le­grino said.

“All of us have had a fridge go on the blink in the night and gone in the next morn­ing and found all the prod­uct ru­ined.

“It’s some­thing every busi­ness owner has gone through.”

The light bulb mo­ment came dur­ing an elec­tric­ity black­out in South Aus­tralia last year.

“We came up with the idea in one night, thrashed out what we were go­ing to do and went to work,” Mr Pel­le­grino said.

“We found a lo­cal elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer and pro­gram­mer, and built the pro­to­type.”

The smart plug sits be­tween the wall socket and ap­pli­ance and au­to­mat­i­cally sends an alert via SMS and email to your phone or de­vice when a power fail­ure oc­curs.

You need a Wi- Fi con­nec­tion but there is no need for an app or bat­ter­ies.

Just how big a mar­ket there is for PWRON re­mains to be seen but one po­ten­tial dis­trib­u­tor asked if they could sup­ply 100,000 units in the first year.

A unit is re­tail­ing for $ 89 with a $ 3 weekly mon­i­tor­ing fee.

Phar­ma­cies, schools, day­care cen­tres, med­i­cal cen­tres, hos­pi­tals and house­holds will be likely cus­tomers: any­body who wants to know whether their fridge or fish­tank is not working.

Mr Pel­le­grino said as far as they could tell there was noth­ing like their prod­uct on the mar­ket.

“Ob­vi­ously we want to be mul­ti­mil­lion­aires ... We are prac­ti­cal. Re­al­ists. I think we are still in that pe­riod where we are just ex­cited to take our prod­uct to mar­ket.”

BORN OF EX­PE­RI­ENCE: PWRON co- founders Tim Pel­le­grino and Adam Lam with cafe owner Neal Duff. Pic­ture: EVAN MOR­GAN

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