IoT: From chatting with coffee makers to conversations with connected cameras

This article first appeared in Digital Edge, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on February 15, 2021 - February 21, 2021.
Ruckert continues to be obsessed with human-machine interaction

Ruckert continues to be obsessed with human-machine interaction

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Conversational AIoT company UIB Holdings Pte Ltd used to develop consumer solutions such as one that would allow you to text your coffee machine to tell it to make your coffee and how you would like it. But it recently moved from consumer solutions to the more industrial world of building management.

Its founder and CEO Toby Ruckert tells Digital Edge that he is still obsessed with the gap in human-to-machine communication. “But it turns out that the same person who uses connected consumer electronics and appliances also happens to live and work in connected buildings.”

Ruckert points out that there is almost a natural evolution from smart brands (simply using chatbots in customer service) to smart devices, homes, buildings and, ultimately, cities.

UIB partnered with German multinational engineering and technology company Bosch to use its conversational AIoT 

(artificial intelligence Internet of Things) platform to talk with Bosch’s and other manufacturers’ connected cameras, sensors, systems, equipment and software, via Bosch Assist.

“With Bosch Assist, people working in and visiting the building can query Bosch’s smart security camera and report building issues,” he says.

Ruckert says the most “beautiful” thing about the facilities management side of Bosch Assist is that now, anyone can report a fault or request a specific service by snapping a photo or sending a text or voice message.

“Our goal was to support the Bosch Bishan building’s [in Singapore] more than 700 people by allowing anyone to submit a photo and description to Bosch Assist. This enabled the internal facilities management group to track and manage all of the building’s issues and trouble tickets from a central dashboard.”

This collaboration started out as a fun project three years ago to allow Bosch personnel to take a peek at the daily lunch menu in the canteen via a connected camera that could be queried with “What’s for lunch?” on WhatsApp.

Now, says Ruckert, the facilities management upgrade (complete with back-end chat group integration with the facilities managers on-site) is a real value-add to both those on-site as well as the company’s management. “The level of transparency provided by the chat group functionality brought down the time usually needed to fix maintenance issues in the building.”

UIB, which is based in Singapore, launched a fully-owned subsidiary in Malaysia last year. UIB Malaysia Sdn Bhd caters for the local market, where it already has success stories with clients such as Hap Seng Star, the largest dealer of Mercedes-Benz automobiles in Malaysia.