By Gabrielle Julien
Based at Centech, the startup Evey will revolutionize the smart personal assistant market with technology that learns user preferences and adapts to them. While waiting for its market entry next year, we met with Keaven Martin, CEO and Co-Founder of Evey.
In concrete terms, what does your product consist of?
Physically, Evey is like a light switch. It turns on and asks users to identify themselves. When an individual is in front of it, Evey will recognize him or her. It only takes two weeks for the technology to learn an individual’s preferences at home. For example, when someone sets the temperature or listens to a particular genre of music, Evey learns a combination (user and preferences) and then applies it on its own, without needing to be programmed. However, when the configurations are more “risky,” for example, turning on the coffee machine 18 minutes after getting up, the assistant will ask if it can make the change. If Evey doesn’t detect any individuals in the house one morning, it will just not prepare any coffee.
Tell us about how the technology works.
There are three main elements that enable the technology to work: recognition, intelligence and interaction. First, sensors and cameras detect the presence of individuals in the house and recognize who they are. This allows Evey to adapt the service and environment to each individual. Then, Evey memorizes each individual’s preferences (room brightness, temperature, favourite music, etc.) and their habits (the time he or she leaves for work and comes home, the daily schedule). Then, according to this data, it interacts with connected products in the house like televisions, loud speakers, the thermostat or even the slow cooker.
Photo from Facebook - Evey
How did Evey come to be?
We were students at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) in electric engineering in 2012 when we thought of the concept. We were looking to create a company whose product would reflect consumers’ needs. My father worked in home automation—long-distance control system installation in buildings—for more than 20 years. The problem with this practice, however, is that it requires large installation teams, running powerful servers, programmers working weeks to configure the system, and so on. This was incredibly costly and the system couldn’t learn the preferences and habits of people on its own. Evey is a connected, intelligent and modern version of home automation that is decently priced and easy to install.
How is Evey differentiated from the home automation, smart home and virtual assistant market?
Traditional home automation does not rely on deep recognition, meaning it doesn’t adapt its actions based on each person. Someone must be holding the tablet to make changes. There is motion sensing, but it doesn’t count as a smart system because it doesn’t detect if the person is still in the room, sitting still on the couch, for example.
Virtual assistants, like Google Home or Amazon Eco, react to voice commands. Actions can only be performed when ordered. In our case, our focus is on intelligence and autonomy.
Photo from Facebook - Evey
You are now officially part of the Open-Air Laboratory for Smart Living, created by Vidéotron, Ericsson, ÉTS and the Quartier de l’Innovation. What has the lab brought to your project?
The lab allows us to do tests in a real-life environment. For technology startups, this isn’t always possible because it’s very expensive. Being in such a partnership is game-changing. In October 2017, we started a first round of testing in a furnished Arbora Griffintown condo to test the individual interaction principles. We are now continuing the work in one of ÉTS’s residences. The next step before market entry will have to be done in lived-in dwellings.
The startup’s objective is clear: make its users’ lives easier so that they can experience a superior level of comfort thanks to Evey. According to Keaven Martin, it will be possible to integrate more than 1,000 connected devices into the service in the next few years in order to make houses smarter than ever.