Schneider Electric Delivers IoT With Wiser App

By Claire Swedberg

Tuya Smart's software platform and app provide wireless connectivity to approximately 30 products released in China for such smart-home applications as water meter management, as well as heating and lighting controls.

Global electrical equipment company Schneider Electric is employing Tuya Smart's Internet of Things (IoT) platform and cloud service to power Schneider's new Wiser smart products. The company has recently launched Wiser as a smart-home solution, starting in Asia, that can provide connectivity between an individual and various devices within his or her home, thereby enabling that person to use IoT technology to manage everything from lighting and temperature levels to leak detection.

Schneider Electric signed a partnership with Tuya Smart in October 2019, and approximately 30 products have so far been launched in China, including sensor-based devices attached to electronics that employ Zigbee, cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. These products include a portfolio of wireless switches, sockets and sensors that communicate with the application.

Schneider Electric's Ma Sitao

Schneider Electric has ventured into the smart-home market to allow customers to easily connect and safely manage electric sources in their home from grid to plug, according to Ma Sitao, the company's VP and CTO for connected home systems. That can include a home's solar source if a person has one, as well as electrical vehicle charging, electrical panels, lights, air conditioning, heating, television and home appliances.

With Wiser, Ma explains, users can employ the solution to control, monitor and adjust settings, or to receive alerts on everything that matters in their home. "With this in mind," he states, "our approach has been to build our system across wired and wireless connectivity protocols, and to leverage the most popular communication standards, like Zigbee." It starts with the app, which users can download for use with IoT-based Wiser products, such as sensors and meters. A user can directly interface with the app on his or her phone, or by voice through Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Tmall Genie.

To use the system, an individual would purchase Wiser products that connect to that person's existing appliances, lighting or electrical panels. He or she would download the app and view information, such as energy usage, leak detection and lighting levels, then adjust the settings by following prompts in the app, which forwards the setting changes directly to the devices. To accomplish this, Schneider Electric is utilizing Tuya's IoT platform in its Wiser smart products.

Tuya Smart is a software platform and services company for connected homes. It offers wireless modules for household devices, a customized app for devices and a cloud-based software platform that manages data and transmits it to users, according to Alex Yang, Tuya's cofounder and COO. The company has designed a platform for IoT solutions that is intended to provide connectivity, device management and user interfaces for applications.

"We are the first ones in the industry to provide a three-in-one [solution]," Yang claims. "The only thing most users [such as Schneider] need to do is integrate the small networking module with their own circuit board." Companies can then can customize the solution using the Tuya platform to suit their own application's needs, he explains, adding, "That way, they can bring unique consumer experiences."

Tuya's Alex Yang

In planning its smart-home solution, Schneider opted to enlist Tuya as its platform partner in order to make rollouts easily expandable, without heavy installation requirements. "The Tuya Smart solution makes that process more seamless," Yang states. In the meantime, he says, Schneider has expertise in electronics so it has a greater understanding of customers' needs and pain points than most companies. "They have an understanding of how people like to control their devices," Yang says. "They put all that into the planning."

By partnering with Tuya, Yang explains, Schneider has gained greater flexibility to manage or customize the solutions it offers. "We help them build the connections with an SDK [software developers kit]," he states. "The Wiser app uses the Tuya Smart SDK." The Wiser line is being distributed first in China, then will be expanded to other countries as well. The solutions will be used in multi-residential buildings; for instance, individuals could adjust the temperature or lighting levels in their apartment via the app.

Tuya provides similar solutions to other companies for smart appliances, ticketing and electrical services. The firm launched in January 2016, Yang reports, and now has thousands of customers. "There are 4,000 brands using this specific system on 500 different types of products," he says. Tuya's application and software platform work with any wireless infrastructure, Yang notes, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Mesh, Zigbee, cellular GPRS or 5G. "We're purely technology-agnostic."

Tuya has witnessed several connected-home development trends since its launch, Yang says, as the demand for connected-home solutions has grown exponentially in terms of consumer knowledge about the technology and what it can do. Every country has its own unique type of demand, he adds; U.S. deployments are centered most commonly around home automation and security, while Japan has a growing demand for elder care for seniors who live alone, and for health-care services. Deployments in Europe, Yang adds, are trending toward using technology for energy saving, such as managing heating systems and lighting. "Lifestyle and understanding the environment of the regions is how you provide the best service," he states.

A number of retailers, particularly Amazon, Wal-mart and Best Buy, are driving the market for smart-home products. Of the top 23 best-selling smart-home brands, Yang says, Tuya Smart's platform is enabling 17 of them.

Tuya's recent announcements also include a collaboration with Samsung for its SmartThings products, to expand its interconnected ecosystem and promote cross-branding and interoperability. It has also announced a partnership with Lenovo for hardware, IoT-based access, cloud services, app customization and marketing. Tuya and Lenovo are building a system with a mutual connection between their respective cloud platforms.

For Schneider, Ma says, "The future is very exciting because life at home is evolving at super-speed." As members of the global consumer market, he adds, "We're consuming more and more electricity and using more and more digital devices, so we need to re-think the way our home works." Schneider Electric is well poised to provide expertise from grid to plug, Ma says, "and we are leading the way in our industry and in sustainability."

The company's plan for Wiser is simple, Ma says. "We will continue to develop our smart-home offering and grow our partner ecosystem in the way that best serves end-user interests," he states, "giving them the power to fully enjoy life at home."