After initial brief, the Ovon team explored the market, to ensure a product with real benefits to a customer. A website was produced, interviews conducted across Europe and it was determined that air conditioning was a major pain point for customers. High and unavoidable energy costs combined with real discomfort in the absence of AC determined the team’s goal. Pre-orders, A/B tests and advertising also determined our ideal price point of €99.
Using detailed component modelling the team developed a strategy of a gateway product, the SuperHub, communicating to individual Climair sensors. This communication was done by Thread, making the Ovon team one of the first to commercially utilise this now leading IoT wireless protocols. This meant also we were able to develop a future-proof solution that could connect to other products in a customer’s home.
By the end of this phase there was a clear component cost breakdown allowing for a competitively priced product, a proven and accurate market evaluation and detailed technical schematics for the future development.
Following idea mapping, the Ovon team developed an iterative range of PCB designs. Optimisation and use of rapid prototyping led to fully functional PCB’s for both the SuperHub and Climair. As with all products we develop, the team looked to the future and utilised the Silicon Labs EFR32 Mighty Gecko MCU to enable OTA firmware updates in future to a mutli-protocol dynamic-switching firmware stack, allowing a customer to connect Thread, Zigbee and Bluetooth products all to the same SuperHub. Various minor improvements were also implemented across a range of plastics prototypes to ensure IR transparency in the Climair window, ease of tooling for manufacture and to minimise production costs.
What IoT product would be complete without its app? The team also developed a functioning app with a variety of features for both Android and iOS. Running on AWS, it also linked into IBM’s Watson IoT Cloud to allow for machine learning for predictive response in future and weather feed integration.
The entire system then underwent a range of field tests and pre-compliance tests, including visits to Spain to ensure compatibility with the AC market.
With the solution ready to implement, final designs were made production-ready. Packaging and manuals were produced and the app was taken from beta to mass release. UI changes such as LED sequencing in the physical devices were also changed based on user feedback. Manufacturers were assessed, quotes received and selected with issues such as IP protection considered.
To take the solution to market, final legal compliance checks were conducted, including CE certification, EMC certification and other relevant national requirements for the required markets. Ordered products were then shipped to eager customers across Europe.
The team then managed ongoing support for customers, with no reports of hardware issues. Areas such as WEEE compliance were also managed by the team. Based on the strength of the Climair solution, the team was then funded by E.ON to develop a further range of compatible products, including a smart thermostatic radiator valve.