Chet Pip­kin, Belkin In­ter­na­tional

Chet Pip­kin, CEO, Belkin In­ter­na­tional

HWM (Singapore) - - Contents - By Zachary Chan Pho­tog­ra­phy An­gela Guo

We used to have a very clear deni­tion of tech, but with every­thing be­ing smart to­day, it’s sud­denly got­ten a lot big­ger in scope…

Yes, it’s got­ten re­ally blurry. You might want to spend some time think­ing about this. In­creas­ingly, soft­ware’s eat­ing the world. The way we buy books, per­ceive books, read them; from mu­sic to videos and even the way we move from point A to point B—are [all] soft­ware ex­pe­ri­ences that’s de­liv­ered on hard­ware. You do still need hard­ware to get to the edge of the net­work; to the peo­ple, but these ex­pe­ri­ences that are get­ting un­locked through the com­bi­na­tion of soft­ware and hard­ware plat­forms, are life ex­pe­ri­ences as op­posed to just a router or a cam­era.

But many smart prod­ucts don’t seem to have a point. Sure, you can re­motely ac­ti­vate a smart cof­fee maker, but you still have to phys­i­cally set it up be­fore and col­lect your cof­fee af­ter. Why is this progress?

So I think you’re think­ing about this in ex­actly the right way, but there’s a phe­nom­ena that will keep oc­cur­ring in tech and con­sumer elec­tron­ics. When new con­cepts come to the fore, things get way over­hyped for their ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the mo­ment. Then we get fa­tigued of it, and by the time we’re through that cy­cle, we’re on to the next hype cy­cle. And that’s about the time where the pre­vi­ous con­cept starts to re­ally get trac­tion and adop­tion in us­abil­ity.

Won’t this cy­cle ham­per the adop­tion of prod­ucts in the end? Es­pe­cially as tech be­comes more ac­ces­si­ble to the com­mon con­sumer that may not ap­pre­ci­ate it in the rst place.

I agree with you. So I think that’s like con­cept num­ber one from my per­spec­tive. Con­cept num­ber two is, in tech, all too of­ten there’re too many com­pa­nies and too many brands cre­at­ing so­lu­tions in search of a prob­lem. Peo­ple get over con­cerned about the tech or the ca­pa­bil­i­ties they have, and they say, “Oh, we’ve solved this prob­lem with wash­ing machines or cof­fee mak­ers”. But, they’re ap­proach­ing it in the wrong way. In many of these cases, the prob­lem never ex­isted in the rst place. We do things ex­actly the op­po­site of that. So we go look­ing for the prob­lem, or the con­sumer need, and then we try to nd a way to solve it.

Cre­at­ing a so­lu­tion whether a prob­lem ex­isted just mar­ket­ing right?

Well, here’s what I think the third con­cept is. It’s re­ally sim­ple to do en­gi­neer­ing work and come up with com­pli­cated ex­pe­ri­ences for peo­ple; ev­ery­one does that. What’s hard to do is the com­pli­cated work to make the user ex­pe­ri­ences sim­ple.

How do you mean?

So for me, I come home stand­ing right in front of the garage and I don’t have my key. Or I’m home, but I’m on the wrong side of the house. I’ve got to walk all the way around to get back into the garage. Why can’t I just do some­thing from my phone? If I want to get in a de­liv­ery of gro­ceries or some­thing, I don’t want them in my home, but I may want to open the garage re­motely or able to get them a code that al­lows them to open a cer­tain win­dow.

Do I re­ally have to re­set the timer for this light to go on when dark? Why is the porch light on when it’s light out­side? Why is my ir­ri­ga­tion wa­ter­ing my lawn when it’s rain­ing out­side? I can do bet­ter than this.

It’s these real needs that I truly want to solve for my­self, ex­pe­ri­ences like that which led us to the Wemo plat­form.

You men­tioned that “you could do bet­ter than this”, in re­la­tion to know­ing when to or not to water your plants. Ev­ery­one’s seems to be turn­ing to AI. How about you?

We’re in­vest­ing so so deeply [in AI]. An ex­am­ple just to il­lus­trate how deeply en­gaged we are with it, we have a new joint ven­ture called Phyn—a startup that we in­cu­bated from in­side of Belkin around be­ing able to mon­i­tor, mea­sure and man­age water in the home. We have a sim­ple piece of hard­ware that goes any­where your plumb­ing sys­tem, and it’s got a water pres­sure sen­sor. If I’m tak­ing a shower, wash­ing dishes or wash­ing my clothes; the changes in water pres­sure with each one of these cases cre­ates a dig­i­tal sig­na­ture that’s unique. And then we have al­go­rithms

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