User Experiences For Smart Life: Home And Mobility

Thursday, July 30, 2020

A Co-Interview with Two of the Partner Companies

Bertrand Stelandre, co-founder of the start-up Epicnpoc,and Lenny Glazman, representative in France for American company VeeA, give us their vision of the chair (project) carried by the UCA Foundation.

Designed by the UCA Foundation, the “User eXperiences for Smart Life: Home and Mobility” Chair project, applied to IMREDD’s Smart Home and Mobility platform, aims to test and study theacceptability and impact on users of new connected systems and associateddigital services created by the partner companies. Hybrid and innovative, thescientific chair was built from the beginning on a strong partnership between researchers from I3S laboratories, GREDEG, LEAT, LAPCOS and INRIA and start-upsEpicnpoc (software product and user experience design) and ISFM (builders ofnew mobility) joined by the first funding partners of the chair: Transdev (mobilityoperator), SIKUR (Cyber security, Internet of Vehicles) and Veea (edgecomputing and communication protocols). The team construction and ongoingcollaboration of all stakeholders fosters a collective approach to innovationthat meets societal needs and the need for economic development.

Can you introduce us to your businesses in a few words?

Epicnpoc: Epicnpoc is a start-up that works on user-centric methodologies and software suites. We are designers of digital experiences. In other words, we provide methodologies that use the most advanced tools in complex digital systems to achieve desirable, feasible and viable user experiences. Desirable for the user because they meet real expectations, feasible because our technology allows to connect elements that do not connect at first and viable because they generate business models. Our goal is to develop a user experience design laboratory, an open ecosystem with methodologies, and a software suite whose graphic language translates the logic of the experiment to be realized. 80% of our team is based in Sophia-Antipolis and the other part works for the exploration laboratory created by Renault and Nissan in which some twenty companies work around new mobility, new ways of working, innovation in open system. Our role in this framework is to enable everyone to work on a common project.

Veea: We are an American company with 140 employees, including 120 engineers. We have developed a universal platform for the Internet of Things, an edge computing solution. Our company is based on a fairly simple idea: the world is going to be more and more connected, but not all connected objects speak the same language. So we’ve designed complex products that can speak multiple languages, retrieve, secure and store data locally. We are network architects. The hardware we provide, because it can handle very different protocols, allows cities like Nice or organizations like IMREDD to communicate with an infinite number of applications and aggregate all of the associated data in an efficient and much less expensive way. Smart cities need pollution sensors, smart cameras, public Wi-Fi… as many applications as our solution supports.

What does the UX Chair mean to you?

E: The Chair is 100% linked with our mission: to help our customers develop their innovations around the user experience. The Chair is a group of large companies like Transdev, mid-sized companies like Veea, start-ups like us. Epicnpoc must link these three entities in order to obtain a global product. This grouping is the first interest of the Chair because we cannot do anything on our own. To be part of the chair is to integrate an ecosystem that includes the business world and the academic world, so it is to collaborate with researchers who work both on technical elements such as AI, but also on knowledge and measurement of user interest, i.e. on the humanities. It is clear that the engineer of tomorrow will also be a designer: he will not only have to innovate using techniques and science, but he will also have to ask himself the question of the human benefit of his achievements. How are we going to find solutions together, the three entities of the Chair, to advance innovation in the fields of mobility, the smart home…? This way of working is completely new. Before innovation was done in a closed, hidden laboratory. Now innovation is the result of open collaborative work between politics, academia and business. The pulpit is that and that is what the speeches of his inauguration emphasized: the opportunity for collaborative work. The pulpit is a playground on which we must place ourselves. We have two roles in the chair. The first is to create experiential devices, test machines that will allow researchers to connect various elements and observe users in use situations. The second is to accompany the research work on the validation of systems and experiences beneficial to the user. The first step is to create a first home-scale testing machine and a mobility system with vehicles that will be connected to it.

V: When we came to Nice to visit with IMREDD, we realized that they had a lot of very smart and effective solutions that our edge computing platform could help manage more effectively, at lower cost. That’s how the link was made. The great benefit of the Chair is to connect with other partners, other companies. We are providing businesses and the academic world with an open and flexible service platform through which engineers and researchers from the academic world will be able to create new use cases in their different fields of choice – applications that we at Veea are not aware of. In return, the Chair, thanks to the expertise of each member, will give us the opportunity to explore new fields. The Chair is very important to us in terms of innovation because it is built on mutual trust between partners. We all want to create a win-win, co-development relationships in which everyone wins: industrial partners, IMREDD, the end customer; whether it’s a city or a person. This pulpit is an accelerator for all. Our hardware solution opens doors, for example, to Epicnpoc which in turn opens the field of autonomous cars that we would not have approached on our own. The Chair is really a co-construction of all the partners. When I presented the Chair project internally at Veea, my management immediately understood the value of combining the strength of the university’s intellectual power, the innovations to come, and the direct opportunities behind these partnerships.

Why did you choose to specifically fund this chair? On our territory?

E: We have been established in this territory since the beginning. We are part of the Sophiapolitan ecosystem, and we are already involved in connected vehicle initiatives. In particular, we have launched developments on various topics with Côte d’Azur University and INRIA. The chair is the continuity embodied in a project within an ecosystem in which we are very active. The chair is experimenting with areas that are evolving very quickly: mobility, the smart home, the smart city. The only way to move forward with a head start in our market is to explore and you can’t explore on your own. Part of our internal innovation is to identify what we will need tomorrow. The Chair is an in vitro test that will allow us to move quickly, to evolve our products and the company towards the needs of tomorrow.

V: We are not yet established in this territory. Our investment in the chair starts from our meeting with IMREDD, and this meetings and the partnerships of the chair coincide perfectly with our development in France. We seized the opportunity to be surrounded by talent. We are a company made up of 90% engineers who want to innovate, create, collect information, and identify new use cases. The chair’s business objective will generate a positive spiral for business, opening up opportunities.

What is your vision of the UCA Foundation? How do you see it?

E: For us, the foundation is clearly an entity implemented to bridge the line between business, academia and politics. What we really like is that it is the right size: a human size flexible enough for us to work together. The UCA Foundation gives us the opportunity, as a small start-up, to have our place in a research chair, to work on a playground on which we have the opportunity to act and learn. The chair gives us this material that helps us to think, which is indispensable to us because we create methodologies for understanding the world tomorrow. We need to have a forward-looking vision of technology, society, people, changing cultures to find solutions. We need to think together about the meaning we give to innovation.

V: The foundation opens doors for us. By connecting companies to each other, opportunities are created. Our business model is built on partnerships. With the chair carried by the Foundation, we will help create use cases that will be better for the economy and the environment. Improving people’s lives is important to us and we felt it was important for the Foundation as well. The Foundation and Veea are aligned in the humanism of our approaches. For us, the goal of connected objects is to improve everyone’s life. We work together for a better world. With the Foundation, we will do this by being more efficient, more flexible, more open and therefore smarter.