Kii Expert of the Week: Kevin Gao, CEO / Founder, ICON Smartech

This week we sit down with ICON Smartech CEO and Founder, Kevin Gao to discuss IoT.

Q: Can you tell us a little about how ICON got started?
A: We developed the smart home panel in 2014 – it was inspired by NEST initially. I felt that it was a very beautiful product but was still a ‘single-function’ product. What we saw was a great opportunity here to make ICON have broader functionality.

Q: Why did you feel you wanted to start a smart home panel?
A: We feel that as IoT smart home devices grow, there is a need for a smart-home dashboard that allows families to monitor / control other smart devices. Currently you have to rely on a smart phone, but it’s not necessary – in many cases there are not interactive features on a smart phone.

Q: Why was Kii instrumental in bringing on as your IoT platform?
A: There were two main reasons: one is that our devices need to fall into a bigger ecosystem – one that can expand beyond our hardware. We want to be an access point beyond other hardware devices and Kii has the existing ecosystem that we can partner with and have a technical partnership with. Second is Kii’s technical capability around analytics and other features like updates, new-feature add-ons, etc and we don’t have to develop our own technology. That would take a lot of time.

Q: What was your approach when coming up with ICON?
A: Our approach is that we make our devices as an open hardware platform, so it not only allows smart IoT devices to use our hardware / screen as a control point but also allows the devices to implement other non-hardware related services as well

Q: What are some unique features of the ICON panel?
A: Our product is a smart home panel / dashboard that could replace the traditional calendar or whiteboard that sits on a fridge. It allows owner to access most smart home devices such as lighting, other tracking devices so long as those devices have an app associated with it. Also allows for community services such as home-deliver / grocery services that allow the service provider access to folks when they are at home

Q: Who is your target audience?
A: Home builder and home automation professionals are our target audience members. The builder is the group who are the developers and automators are folks who want to build upgrades to their house such as smart lighting, smart window shading, etc

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