23/05/2022 - 21:55

Zimi smart home devices set up intriguing ASX opportunity

23/05/2022 - 21:55

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With the humble home getting smarter and smarter, the opportunities associated with smart home products are endless and ASX-listed Zimi Ltd has positioned itself in the vanguard of the new wave of players. Zimi’s smart power points and switches are next level and the company already has product in the market via distribution agreements with a seriously big retailer and a wholesaler that supplies almost 1000 stores.

Zimi smart home devices set up intriguing ASX opportunity
Zimi is at the tip of the spear in "smart home" technology. Credit: File.

Smart home technology players like Google, NYSE listed TUYA and even fast moving ASX upstarts like Zimi Ltd would do well to fire their research and development departments and just take their inspiration from the 1970s hit futuristic cartoon The Jetsons

In particular, the scene where George Jetson’s boss, Mr Spacely, introduces the company’s new “$5 billion robot” known as “Uniblab” was quite prophetic – Uniblab could open and close everything in the house, turn lights on and off, make a coffee and even provide share market tips.

Fast forward 50 years and Google’s voice activated product known as “Google Home” could actually be Uniblab brought to life from its incarnation as a futuristic idea embedded in a cartoon half a century ago.

Google Home however is only the enabler – the real heavy lifting is done by smart products like Zimi’s light switches for example that can be programmed to turn off every light in the house or a defined selection of lights from just one switch, regardless of whether or not it is hard-wired to those particular light bulbs. As long as it is wired to at least one light bulb in the house, it can be programmed to turn off any other light or series of lights via Zimi’s unique “Powermesh” system.

Importantly, Zimi’s switches can be voice operated courtesy of Google Home, activated via an APP on a smart phone or the more traditional way using the humble index finger.

Zimi’s powerpoints can also be turned on and off remotely via an APP or using voice activation and a timer can even be set to turn them off or on at a predetermined time.

Fan switches from Zimi also change the game significantly – particularly with the assistance of Google’s voice activation technology – imagine being able to adjust the fan speed until you get it just right without lifting a finger or getting off the couch – in fact imagine adjusting the speed of every fan in the house without getting off the couch. Or perhaps even dimming the lights until just the right mood has been created using voice or mobile phone APP only.

Whilst these things were common for the Jetson family in the seventies, they are only just starting to take off in the real world now – and the market is becoming insatiable for them.

Notably,  Zimi’s switches can be retrofitted to an old house and are therefore not just destined for the new home market like some others that need a spaghetti junction of wall and ceiling wiring before they will come to life.

Zimi says there are some 250m devices across Australia’s existing 10m houses that could potentially be swapped out for Zimi devices.

Far from being just a research and development play, Zimi is already in the market and has struck distribution agreements with some of the biggest names in the Australian electrical industry including Beacon Lighting and electrical wholesaler Trader which supplies electrical product to around 1000 stores across the country.

Notably Trader is owned by Zimi Chairman and prime mover Simon Gerard who speaks for about 38 per cent of Zimi’s stock. Gerard is no slouch when it comes to public markets and the electrical industry. He is the fourth generation of his family to own and run mega electrical supply company Clipsal – and the first generation to sell it – for a whopping enterprise value of more than $700m back in 2003 when it was picked up by Schneider.

Almost 10 years later the family, led by Gerard, built one of the entities not acquired by Schneider into the ASX-listed Gerard Lighting business that was acquired by private equity player Champ, now CPE Capital, in a $186m transaction in 2012.

During that time Gerard teamed up with ICT executive Jordan Tentori whose family business was vended into the company and together they founded Zimi in 2018. The company was acquired by struggling ASX listed Shell Quantify who needed a working platform and since has been renamed to Zimi.

The company is now on a growth spurt having sorted out its product development. Its top line hiked 20 per cent for the March quarter to almost $1.3 million and the company also reported a record month for device pairing in the field on the Zimi cloud with over 16,000 devices now paired and about the same number again sitting on retailers’ and wholesalers’ shelves.

Interestingly, in the early days, Google assisted Zimi with its product development – representing a significant endorsement of David by Goliath.

Zimi has also locked in the largest garage door company in Australia, Steel-Line, to distribute its smart garage door controllers and cloud connect systems that allow garage doors to be opened and monitored from anywhere in the world.

Steel-Line did not waste anytime stepping up to the plate either with an initial order in May last year that was backed up by another $250,000 Zimi order in November.

Remarkably, Polyaire, one of the largest aircon manufacturers in Australia has tweaked its own smart system "Airtouch" to allow it to integrate with and control Zimi smart home devices from its airconditioning system, providing a one-stop smart shop for Polyaire customers to control both their aircon and home devices and lighting.

And it wasn’t just talk either – Polyaire immediately ordered 5000 devices as a teaser of what it can do.

Zimi has now shipped 35,000 devices in the last six months.

Zimi CEO, Jordan Tentori said: “Following a successful 2021, Zimi has started the 2022 calendar year strongly, with a key focus on our next phase of accelerated growth. At the same time, we have continued to strengthen the relationships with both our distribution and supply partners. Zimi is uniquely positioned in this fast-growing market of connected devices and is positive about the opportunities ahead.”

Zimi is essentially creating a massive inter-connected web of householders across the country, all of whom are connected to its servers in the cloud that control everything at a household level that is either plugged into a power point or attached to a light or fan switch either wirelessly or by hardwiring.

The mind boggles about future opportunities for a company that is making its way into the households and psyche of tens of thousands of people and beyond in a country that is now valuing and embracing anything that makes its lives easier.

Could Zimi eventually become a paid subscription software as a service? Could it become a massive aggregator of valuable data? There is seemingly no end to the opportunities that abound around the “internet of things” marketplace and Zimi looks set to position itself in the ruck as the market takes off.

The script writers of the Jetsons cartoon are likely either pushing 100 or pushing up daisies now but no doubt would manage a quiet smile when they realise that their cartoonistic invention Uniblab lives in all its glory as Google Home and its many tentacles that include Zimi’s very smart devices.

 

Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: matt.birney@businessnews.com.au

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