We talked to Mike Harry of OVAL on how smart sensors have changed people’s lives.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mike Harry: Everyone is sane, happy, and healthy right now, fortunately. Much credit to the parents, teachers, small business owners, and front-line workers out there stepping up to keep things moving in such uncertain times.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded OVAL.
Mike Harry: After a 20+ year career producing film, television, and commercials, I founded OVAL Digital, Inc. to help people prevent and reduce loss or damage from theft, water leaks, accidents, and unsafe or unhealthy conditions in and around the home.
How does OVAL innovate?
Mike Harry: OVAL is a 5-in-1 smart sensor that monitors and alerts you in real-time to sudden or gradual changes in temperature, light, humidity, motion, and water. With one small and wireless smart sensor, you can detect and prevent theft, water leaks, and everything in-between. OVAL sensors turn any ordinary room, area, or object into a smart and connected one instantly without using invasive cameras or microphones.
OVAL sensors can alert you when a door, window, or cabinet is open, a heating or cooling system, bathroom fixture, or appliance is failing or leaking, if someone turns a light on or off, or if the temperature or humidity changes, which can create mold, damage equipment, and furniture, or interfere with safety, health or comfort.
Finally, OVAL connects to smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home as well as IFTTT, which allows OVAL sensors to communicate with other smart home products to trigger unique recipes for home automation.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Mike Harry: OVAL’s team has always worked remotely worldwide, so we were not affected in our day-to-day operations. Our product arrived in Amazon’s warehouses shortly before the pandemic started. The need for remote security and environmental monitoring has helped our business as people are looking for new and easy ways to stay connected to the places, people, and most important things.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Mike Harry: Startups are always making difficult choices, and in times like these, we need to react quickly, be proactive, and consider the health and safety of our team first and foremost. As we navigate through these uncertain times, we are also closely monitoring everything to better inform us as to when we will produce our next production run, how, when, and where to market our product respectfully, and where we are headed in the future as a business.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and OVAL in the future?
Mike Harry: At OVAL, we keep the overall mood light and friendly with our team and always remember that our product helps people by providing them with peace of mind and instant awareness of the things they care about. Knowing that we are providing a useful service – especially now – keeps us focused on innovation and improvement every day to ensure that we provide our customers with a useful solution that provides immediate value.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mike Harry: Many of our competitors provide sensors that only feature one or two sensing capabilities, which require consumers to buy, install, and manage multiple products and apps. Others require installation or integration within the home, which can be limiting and expensive. Finally, others feature cameras or microphones which are too invasive for people and prone to hacking. OVAL is a design and privacy-focused solution that is flexible, customizable, and versatile – allowing them to monitor everything from a liquor cabinet to a mailbox.
Your final thoughts?
Mike Harry: The smart home market is growing rapidly, expected to reach $135b by 2025. However, less than 10% of homes currently have any smart devices installed. Everyone has a story about theft, water leaks, or property damage to share. Fortunately, because of OVAL, people no longer need to come home to discover these unfortunate incidents long after the damage has been done. They can be alerted in real-time, anywhere in the world, directly through their smartphone.
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