Control smart home via WhatsApp

Mr Franklin Tang, chief executive of smart living platform developer Habitap, demonstrates how the Habitap Handy assistant can understand informally written text and ask follow-up questions to find out more about a user's request or instruction.
Mr Franklin Tang, chief executive of smart living platform developer Habitap, demonstrates how the Habitap Handy assistant can understand informally written text and ask follow-up questions to find out more about a user's request or instruction.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Future residents of an upcoming Nassim Hill development can use the Habitap Handy assistant to control up to 200 devices remotely without turning on the app

Forgot to turn off the lights before leaving home? Compose a WhatsApp message to tell the Habitap Handy assistant, click Send and within seconds, the lights will be turned off remotely.

This was one of the scenarios demonstrated yesterday at a press event held by property company Keppel Land and smart living platform developer Habitap.

Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), the Habitap Handy assistant will be available to future residents of Keppel Land's upcoming Nassim Hill development.

The Habitap Handy assistant can understand text written informally (natural language) and ask follow-up questions to find out more about a user's request or instruction. Over time, it will also learn a user's habits and preferences. This enables it to make suggestions to automate features and settings, such as turning on the lights at a certain time of the day or reminding users to service their air-conditioners.

There are no limits to the number of users in a household who can access the Habitap Handy assistant, as long as their mobile phone numbers had been previously registered with the system.

It is a new way of interacting with the Habitap smart living platform, according to Mr Franklin Tang, chief executive and founder of Habitap.

The Habitap smart living platform was launched in 2016 at Keppel Land's Corals at Keppel Bay waterfront development. It comes with a mobile app (available for iOS and Android) that lets users access the integrated functionality offered by Habitap. But the new Habitap Handy assistant feature has not yet been rolled out to Corals at Keppel Bay residents.

"What we realise is that people do not always turn on the Habitap app. In fact, messaging is more frequently used - you probably talk to the entire world on WhatsApp. So we picked messaging channels because it is easy to understand and a lot easier to interact. You are now telling the AI (Habitap Handy assistant), but it does not replace the Habitap app," said Mr Tang.

Habitap can control up to 200 compatible smart home devices, from digital door locks to smart lights. Residents can also use the Habitap app to book condominium facilities, such as tennis courts and barbecue pits. Finally, it can connect to third-party lifestyle services and apps such as Deliveroo and Honestbee to arrange for food delivery and grocery shopping.

Keppel Land president Ng Ooi Hooi said that the cost of adding a smart home management system to a residential development is relatively low. He added users nowadays also expect more features to help manage their homes better.

In addition to the upcoming Nassim Hill development, Keppel Land is also looking to implement the newer, AI-enhanced Habitap platform in other projects.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2018, with the headline 'Control smart home via WhatsApp'. Print Edition | Subscribe