Jason Wade talks to Colin Billings, Founder/CEO of Orro
Doorbell Ninja founder and Smart Home Show host Jason Wade recently interviewed Colin Billings. Colin is the founder and CEO of Orro, the first truly responsive home lighting system that integrates with all your devices at home so you can conveniently control everything in one place. Colin previously worked as VP of Product at Stitcher where he led the team from the founding days to exit when the company was acquired by Deezer, the world’s second largest subscription music service.
Colin has an MBA in Entrepreneurship from the University of San Francisco, a JD from UC Hasting, and his Bachelor’s in Political Science from UCLA.
From the Smart Home Show Podcast:
Tell us about what Orro is exactly.
Orro is the most advanced, responsive home lighting system that learns from human presence and activities in the spaces where they live to make life better in the home. But what makes the Orro switch unique is that it has more in common with a smartphone than a light switch. It’s an iPhone for your home.
Orro can not only connect all your home’s lighting together, but also integrates with all your other smart devices in your home. That way you only have one product for everything in your home, instead of having separate products for each feature you’re looking for.
In terms of how the lighting works, the Orro Switch is a system that fuses together data from an array of sensors, allowing us to deliver the most advanced presence detection on the market. It allows the light switches to change the lighting levels of the spaces where it’s installed to match occupants needs by dimming your existing bulbs. Through every interaction you have with Orro – from switching it on or off to creating a routine – the system learns how light supports life in your home. Whether you’re waking up in the morning, hosting a dinner party, or putting your kids to sleep, Orro is by your side throughout the day and night. It detects when you’re there and the characteristics of the activities happening in the spaces of your home to ensure your lights truly respond to you. And, when you leave a room, it turns the lights off so you don’t have to worry about them.
Orro packs an incredible amount of value into each switch. When it comes to the amount of technology in each switch, Orro is closer to an iPhone than it is to a typical light switch.
What are some of the specific components in the switch?
Responsive and adaptive: Orro responds to human presence in any space and turns lights on seamlessly. The core of Orro is its responsiveness and the elements of this are TruePresence and SwitchIQ. TruePresence detects your entrance into spaces and activities and turns the lights on, and it keeps them on while you're in the room unlike other motion sensors that can turn off it you remain still. SwitchIQ is the feature that allows Orro to learn your preferences over time. Together, these two features allow Orro to take control of lighting all together so you don’t have to think about it anymore. Within a week Orro learns you preferences and handles 95% of all the lighting adjustments in a room.
Natural: Sunrise and sunset lighting levels that mirror the natural rhythms of the day help you wake up and fall asleep more naturally. Better rest leads to better health and wellness.
Voice Assistant Connectivity
Orro will be offering voice assist connectivity through Amazon Alexa and Google assistant, meaning you can speak to these systems to set levels of brightness and trigger patterns for your Orro switch. Orro will work with Amazon Alexa and Google assistant, with a built-in feature coming shortly after.
Designed to Work Offline First and without an app
The entire processing system of each Orro device is located inside the device itself, not in the cloud, meaning it does not rely on WiFi to function and WiFi is only required for set-up. We need to be able to rely on our lights with or without an internet connection so Orro so this ensures reliability and consistency even if your router or internet isn’t working.
While we offer an app, and you can do more things through the app, Orro was designed to work without the use of one. No smartphone required. Because you shouldn't have to find your phone, hunt and peck around for your app to access basic lighting functionality.
How do you install the switch? Do you need special tools or light bulbs for them to work?
Installation of the Orro Switch is very easy. In less than fifteen minutes, anyone can install Orro in the home using simple household tools. Orro’s patented QuickConnect system was designed to simplify connecting your switch to the electrical wires in the wall and get your device working as quickly as possible. It transforms a process that traditionally required screwdrivers, wire nuts and struggling with short wires into a process that is a simple as plug and play.
How long does the Orro Switch last? Do you need to replace it every few years like a phone?
Orro is designed for a 10-Year lifetime. We’ve engineered Orro to use industrial and automotive electrical components to ensure the Orro light switch lasts for a minimum of ten years. We don’t expect to replace our lights every two years like we replace our phones.
What inspired you to start Orro?
Initially, Orro was founded out of a need to get better sleep. At the time, I was working on the sale of my previous company, which, as can be imagined, was a stressful period of time. I was barely sleeping, getting irritable and frustrated throughout the day. One week after discovering Flux, the application that adapts the color of your computer display to the time of day, I found I was sleeping better. This was fascinating and I began learning about how light affects a person’s sleep, and the ensuing effects on mood, happiness, productivity, and overall well-being. I began reading about how the scientific community understands the way that light exposure throughout the day affects how humans feel and sleep; after much research I was convinced that wellness and happiness at home was linked to the light we experience in the home. It was through this experience of learning how important light was to my life that the idea for Orro was born.
There are so many other smart light switches out on the market right now. What are the main differentiators for Orro?
Most “Smart Switches” on the market really aren’t smart, they’re just remote controls. Orro is different in that it can do all the things you do with these traditional devices but also adds more value on top through various integrations and additional features that none of the other switches have. It’s more like an iPhone for you home than it is a light switch.
Orro doesn’t just control your lights but it makes it so you never have to even think about your lights. It’s also designed to be a subtle addition to a room rather than a major statement. You shouldn’t compromise on the design of your home to get connect and control the devices you want to or to upgrade what’s possible in any room of your house.
Orro is the most intelligent, most responsive and adaptive lighting system on the market. By understanding your routines and activities, Orro equips an entire home with the capability to understand and respond to your needs, seamlessly and efficiently.
Why is lighting so important in the home?
Lighting is an extremely powerful experience inside the home that fulfills many different needs. Aside from its practical application of providing basic safety and security, lighting affects moods and general wellbeing.
There is a trove of scientific studies that have shown that light exposure throughout the day can have profound effects on a person’s sleeping schedule.
Before the lightbulb, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, people woke up when the sun came up and went to bed when the sun went down. A modern example of this is camping; when you’re sleeping outdoors and away from artificial light, your body follows its natural rhythm of falling asleep once it’s dark, and waking up once it’s light. Since the creation of the light bulb, people rarely sleep and wake in sync with the sun. It is common to wake much earlier or later than the sun rises, and stay awake long after the sun sets.
The lighting rhythms that we experience throughout the day are important to our biological health and, in particular, sleep. This means that, at times, artificial light can be a pollutant to our bodies, like when we leave bright lights on in the evening or look at are devices while lying in bed.
The key to helping us have a better relationship with light is not to ask people to manage their light switches more or to disconnect from the grid, but instead to give over that responsibility to a system that is better at automatically meeting our needs. It’s a chance for us to use technology to help us thrive. Orro is the solution to making lighting a more natural experience for every person by bringing it seamlessly into alignment with our needs without asking us to invest more effort.
What’s next for smart home technology?
The smart home revolution got its start in 2011 when Nest unveiled its WiFi connected thermostat. Since then, we have seen a wave of connected products that require an accompanying app and an internet connection.
We’re closing the chapter on this generation of smart products and introducing a new wave of home gadgets. The larger theme is that, while products continue to enter the home, apps that control everything are going away. The next generation of smart home technology will disappear into the fabric of your home.
What is next for Orro?
We can’t talk about future products but we’re excited for the upcoming Home Controls Integrations we have planned. Some examples of these features are integration with doorbells so you can see and talk to who’s at the door, door locks so you can lock your doors from anywhere in your home, climate control, and integrations with sounds systems, your security system and voice assistants like Alexa.
It’s our goal that Orro blends into the fabric of your home so you can forget about your lights, locks, and doors in the future. We will also continue to add new lighting experiences that respond automatically to your activities so that your lights are in tune with your life.
Where can we buy Orro today?
Right now, the Orro Switch is available for order on our website, www.getorro.com.
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