What I know about building an IoT device: Shaun Moore

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A stint at Merrill Lynch in Chicago, experience developing mobile apps, and a constant affiliation with technology is what led Dallas-based Shaun Moore to help build the world’s most intelligent doorbell, Chui.

Moore, CEO and cofounder of Chui, along with CTO and cofounder Nezare Chafni, is getting ready to launch the doorbell at the end of April.

Chui is a smart doorbell that allows users to unlock a door or chat with a visitor remotely through its facial recognition and Bluetooth technologies.

Following his talk at Dubai’s inaugural Future Technology Week in March, Moore sat with Wamda to discuss all that goes into building an IoT product.

You have to keep an eye out for trends. In 2012, we were looking online to understand what was happening in terms of trends in technology. At that time Kickstarter was in its early stages, and we started seeing a lot of home automation and DIY products on the platform. The realization that there was this projection of a community of intelligent homes, intelligent environments and it all being connected was key. We started exploring if there really was a way for us to take advantage of this trend.

Look at what already exists and think beyond. In college, we would get together at a friend’s house, and always go back and forth about who would open the door. Nezare and I were reminiscing about it once, and thought it would’ve been really cool if we could’ve just seen who’s at that door on our phones. That led to “let's connect it”,  but then how do we take it to the next level? How do we think five years, 10 years out because technology will only grow? At that time, biometrics and facial recognition stuck out because it’s a passive form of identity access you can enable through a database. Everyone loved selfies then too, so people were comfortable with that and we had a preexisting database already there because of that.

Shaun Moore, on the left, with his cofounder Nezare Chafni. (Image via Shaun Moore)

Invest in design. Before we even had a product we started to engineer it with a focus on how to make it look as beautiful as possible. We didn’t want Chui to look like a tacky gadget or a security camera. We wanted it to be friendly and appealing to people, so they’ll be proud to have it in their home and their offices. The final design also directed our messaging and functionality. When you’re looking at a product and then you look at packaging, it all needs to sell the same story. It was extremely important to us that design was perfect

Know when the market is ready. When we thought of Chui, we thought this is crazy and this is so far beyond what people can comprehend right now. We felt people weren't ready for facial recognition to be used as access. We didn’t pursue the smart doorbell until a couple months later [in 2012] when we had found a provisional patent on a process using facial recognition as a means of identification and access had come for conversion. We were selling a vision, a society that people could see themselves living in - you see this stuff in movies.

The smart home conversation is important. Nest was the leader in that change. There was a paradigm shift in how ideas were being funded without having a physical product. It was the reverse of Apple or Google where you’re getting people to pay you for an idea and now you’ve got to go spend a year or two building that idea. Our promise to our pre-order purchasers was that we were not going to charge until we were ready to ship. 

Security issues are a byproduct of this innovation. That’s just the digital day and age we’re in now. It gets to be an issue when it’s being used inappropriately. Protection of customer data is critical. We also have a team developing spoof detection technology. To have something as unbreakable as it can be, you need three things- something you have, something you are and something you know. We’re trying make something that’ll make people’s lives easier and not that they'll be mad about it or make them feel concerned about their security.

You have to innovate faster than ever before. We’re trying to create a solution for five years out. We’re not looking to solve things that are an issue today we’re looking to solve things what could potentially be an issue in the futures. You need to get involved in  circles that have these conversations as best as you can. Whether online forums or meetups, you need to start talking to people that are in that space.

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