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Anousheh Ansari is in town. And she wants you to live smart!
Anil George
September 16, 2014
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The first lady space explorer and CEO Nasri Tehini chat about Makook Smart Living

It’s not everyday that you get a chance to interact with a space explorer. Anousheh Ansari is in many ways as multifaceted as they come. The first Iranian astronaut and first woman space explorer, recipient of the first Symons Innovator Award and the Horatio Alger Award, the face behind the Ansari X prize for space innovation, among others. CEO of Prodea Systems, her constant emphasis on increasing creative initiatives among children has seen the incorporation of the ‘What if’ challenge that is much sought after by elementary school children across the US. She is also on the board of several non-profits which seek to expand education and healthcare initiatives to various segments of the populace.

Which makes the smartliving platform that she is behind all the more perfect, focusing on a seamless integration of technology into the personal existence. And as Ms Ansari elaborates, a way to get technology personal again. “Balancing the technology adoption rates between a generation who have literally grown up online and one that is almost been closeted from it, is one of the challenges that we face, and one that I feel Smart Living can help bridge.”

jcrop-previewMakook Smart Living is the outcome of their collaborations in the Middle East, and the charismatic CEO, venture capitalist and entrepreneur Nasri Tehini took us through the implications of smart technology, and the place of smart living solutions going forward in the Middle East. As Mr Tehini puts it. “It’s less about making the TV Smart, and more about integrating technology seamlessly into the everyday. The Internet of Things is truly upon us and I am thrilled to be able to announce this landmark agreement with Prodea Systems, which makes so many technological ambitions an affordable reality. People have for a long time wanted a simplification to the management of their complex platforms and devices, and a more relevant and enjoyable experience in a very crowded technology environment. We are now able to deliver on the promise of making aspects of people’s lives smarter and more seamlessly integrated.”

jcrop-previewShowcased at the Smart Living Exhibition happening at Emirates Towers, Makook’s services include content tieups with major studios in place for enabling movie exclusives, link ups with education providers for enabling smart teaching aids [case in point being a product he showcased which enabled Indian Curriculum children to access school projects on their Television], and with health providers. As Ms Ansari puts it “We launched Prodea back in 2006, largely without knowing that there would be an Internet Of Things. We anticipated that people’s lives would be more and more dependent on technology. With the exponential advances in technology, we had to build a platform that could adapt and integrate whatever new devices and services that are out there on to our platform seamlessly. We now have new devices coming out right from Smart  TV’s to Smart wearables and smart watches, all of which integrate easily on our platform. And the more such devices are out there, the more richer experience we can provide to consumers. So consumers don’t need to deal with individual service providers, instead you’re applying your platform to it with one set of interfaces that can managed on one platform. “

jcrop-previewSo how does Makook work? Based on a subscription model, the service is delivered in homes through a connected box, which acts as a Wi-Fi router as well, with the service sitting on top of whatever cable offerings already exist. Overlaying is a term that Mr Tehini used quite frequently during our conversation, since apart from exclusive entertainment  content, the box also powers home automation, meaning the ability to turn off lights, raise or lower blinds, set pre-programmed settings for lights, or order food from your connected smart device. Remote monitoring is another element of the package, with the user being able to access real time video clips over a mobile device. Sensor-enabled cameras that are included with the package ensure greater security as well. By setting utility timings whether lights or air conditioning, plus an app that gives you an idea of energy usage across periods of time, consumers are encouraged to save energy as well. Plus, the service allows you to compile a hard drive of multimedia content, and access it via your smart device, something Mr Tehini emphasized would replicate a cloud-like experience.

Makook’s solutions are primarily targeted at the end consumer presently, with a corporate strategy in place. In beta at the moment, it’s expected to be available for consumers here by the end of October, with a roll out to 19 markets across MENA in the pipeline.

by Anil George

Avid follower of all things tech. In between his quest for the ultimate gizmo, Anil fiddles with light meters, collects rare books and feeds his fetish for Jap horror movies. As Managing Editor of T3 Middle East for the GCC, Anil oversees content direction across print and digital. He was a CES 2017 Innovation Awards Judge, reprising his role as an Innovation Awards Judge at CES 2015 and 2016. Anil is also the Middle East’s first Brand Ambassador for Ashdown Engineering.  Reach him at: editor@t3me.com.