[Interview] Myfox CEO Jean-Marc Prunet introduces their new super smart home security system

Feb 6, 2015
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The last time we caught up with Myfox during mid-2014 they were announcing a partnership with IFTTT and discussing at our Connected Conference how they’ve managed to change the game in terms of home security. Fresh off the launch of their Now, with the launch of their innovative, hyper-connected, new Myfox Security System, receiving a coveted CES Innovation Award in the Smart Home category, and active expansion in the US market, 2015 is looking to be a pivotal year for Myfox.

I caught up recently with CEO Jean-Marc Prunet who took me through how their new security system offers a fundamental shift in how the market approaches home security today.

How have things developed for Myfox since we last spoke?

The big news is the launch of Myfox Security System which we launched at CES. We had an extraordinary welcome there, particularly due to our winning a CES Innovation Award which helped generate huge interest from both the French and international press. But, of course, having a high-level of media success and business success are not the same thing. I have the impression though that we were able to achieve a certain level of momentum with a product that has real value for users and is extremely useful for the entire population in ensuring the security of their family and their home. We’ve profoundly reinvented the approach to home security. We’ve gone beyond simply giving consumers a dimension of aesthetics in design and a product that is effective for a mass audience. We’ve also done so drawing on technology that resolves the issues and imperfections of home security. It’s a product that has the potential to enter and work in everyone’s home, which is not the case with other home security solutions available today.

So how does it work?  What are the principal new features of your new system?

As with all Myfox products and services, Myfox Security System is first and foremost rooted in the principle of proactive deterrence, namely preventing break-ins before they happen. The fact is that typical home security systems are inherently reactive;  alarms going off, notifying the police, etc, all these well-known elements of home security management only come in to play once there is an actual security breach of your home. With built in technology like our IntelliTAG Sensors™ we can deter break-ins before they happen by immediately differentiating between normal everyday movements or events in your home and actual threats to your home security. We are convinced this will completely change the way people look at home security.

Next, security systems available today could be used by everyone, but they really are annoying to manage, they’re too complicated.  Our security system draws on technological innovation to, first, recognize everyone who has access to your home and, when you come home, deactivates on its own. So, there’s no need to enter codes or have to live with an alarm going on just because you’ve come home.

We’ve also found that consumers are often reluctant to use security systems because they need to pay a fee to a security company that doesn’t do much and, as mentioned earlier, usually arrives too late if there’s a problem in your home. Alternatively, newer (internet-based) solutions are also problematic because you get a lot of alerts on your phone, which is quite tiresome for someone to manage everyday. That’s why we added a community dimension to Myfox Security System where from your app, you can invite people you trust to have access to your home if needed – the building guardian, a neighbor, other family members, etc – and can also specify what level of access they should have. The idea is that you give access to those around you, a community, who can help you.  The community-based model will be the future of security.

In  the security sector, being connected is obviously critical.  Generally the way this is done (with newer solutions) is via wifi. However, consumers need a product that remains connected even if their wifi goes down. This is why we created MyfoxAround™ (integrated with Myfox Security System). The way it works is that if your wifi goes down, it can draw on the systems of others that have Myfox Security System within a radius of 500m in urban areas and up to 2km in rural areas.  We’ve managed to create a product that stays connected at no additional cost to users thanks to this collaborative communication between the systems.

Myfox Home SecurityThe final aspect, another very important dimension for security systems, is the respect of one’s private space.  This is always a concern when there are cameras used. That’s why we’ve developed a camera which shuts off once you enter the room. When looking at the concerns arising from having security cameras in the home, it’s not only concerns about hackers, but also the general concern that you don’t want someone looking at you, your wife or husband, your kids, etc.  So, we’ve added this functionality,  a ‘privacy shutter’, which closes the camera when you or your family is in the room. Press, distributors and users all say that this is extremely unique vs other solutions on the market. It changes completely the way that you look at a security camera.

What has the response been from the traditional security sector to a product like Myfox? 

As mentioned, our products have completely changed the approach to security. This approach is truly the future of security.  Myfox Security System, which we’ve developed drawing our 10 years of experience in the sector,  is a product which from first glance is well designed, the marketing pitch is simplified as much as possible, and has a price that that’s affordable.  But it is important to know that behind all that, it has the same guarantee of a professional security system. Meaning, it has a battery that continues to function in the event of a power outage, with MyfoxAround™ it continues to communicate even if your wifi is down, it has noise sensors and detectors, and if someone attempts to deactivate the system it alerts you. So, essentially, we bring the same level of security as a professional system, but are even more effective and create a community based system around you to help manage the security of your home. This is really attractive for consumers because after making an initial investment of 299 euros, usage of the services from then on are free.  Of course there could be users who need something beyond that, but for the majority of consumers, our system fits their needs well.

Beyond consumers, do you also have interest from SMEs and startups who are more and more working in coworking spaces and other flexible working spaces where a community-based system such as Myfox Security System would fit well?

Yes, we’re definitely targeting them as well.  In many ways the security problems that micro-enterprises and other small businesses face are similar to those of residential users, but with a few additional needs, such as better information on who’s in their workspace and what they’re doing. What additional things we doing specifically for this group? We offer them key fobs, which enable hands-free disarming of the system and enable employers to know who’s arrived, who’s left, and whether they’ve ‘checked-in’ via their key fobs or the application. And, of course, if people leave (resign) from the company, those employees can be easily deactivated. We have several pre-orders already, and given the volume of key fobs some customers are ordering, we know there’s quite a few businesses already set to use our security system.

Talk to me about your distribution strategy. I know with the US, which is a focus for you, it’s quite complicated.

The appetite of distributors in the US and across Europe for this product, has been substantial. So our development strategy will focus on consumer electronics retail on and off-line.  Beyond that, a key part of our strategy is that our products are compatible with other protocols and systems and, as such, we do not confine our customers to our products and platform. Not only are we open because we have open APIs and compatibility with smart home platforms, but we’re effectively addressing just one use case in the smart home, the security of your family. So that means we’re completely open to other actors (Apple, Samsung, La Poste, Google, Bouygues, etc) in the sector offering solutions to address other needs in the home, which the consumer can decide whether or not to use. When you present the argument in that way to service operators (could be the telcos, insurance companies, banks, etc), they find it quite interesting. With Myfox you have a partner that has a client base, a legitimacy in the security sector, a real interest to round out the range of services we can offer our customers, and an ability for service operators to reach new customers. This is a compelling proposition for a partner such as an AXA, which can, in turn, offer their customers a more interesting, comprehensive insurance solution.  So, ultimately we’ve created an offer that is simple and open enough that it can easily be integrated with other smart home solutions.

I know the US is a big priority for you.  Any other priority markets for you?

We’ve actually had quite of bit of interest from areas in the world where we’ve not yet communicated or marketed to directly, particularly Asia. But we definitely don’t want to stretch our resources too thin, so we’ll focus first on the US and Europe and then leverage our success there to expand elsewhere.

Talk to me a bit about how you view the connected object space?

The key question is, what is the usefulness of connected objects on the market today?  A connected object isn’t intelligent because it’s connected.  It’s intelligent because it resolves problems that weren’t previously resolved and does so without putting too many constraints on users.  As explained, that’s what we’re doing. There’s a lot of connected objects that are cool, fun or amusing, but once you get them home, you have to question if they’re really useful for you. We’ve developed products based on our years of experience in the sector that are, above all, solving problems for consumers.