Andrey Gabisov is one of the co-founders of Oco, a smart home product company that is making waves with it’s home camera systems. Their system wirelessly connects to your WIFI and it can store video on SD cards and boasts features that would be unimaginable at this pricing only a few years ago: Night Vision, Intelligent Motion Detection, HD video, and cloud storage. (This week, we are offering member’s only pricing for a range of Oco products.)
Andrey gave us a bit of a look inside the mind of a hardware revolutionary, from the nitty gritty of building his startup to the high level impact of futuristic technology on security, privacy, and even future versions of ourselves.
What made you decide to create the Oco camera?
We are all fathers so our home and family security are extremely important for us. When we were starting Oco, there have not been many cameras on the market. It was impossible to get a Dropcam in Europe and honestly, it was overpriced. Other options were unreliable. So we decided to change it and build a full-featured and affordable home monitoring camera. Later, we focused more on small business DIY solutions, as this market segment is underserved.
What inspired the specific design and/or features for your products?
“I think humans will evolve into something different... you will see this species on the streets in 50-80 years from now.”
Most of the Oco cameras are OEM solutions. But Oco2 is completely designed by us. We tried to create a simple and functional design that will look great in any interior, at the same time it won’t grab attention. We also wanted to pick material that will make you feel that the cameras have a “human touch and feel”, that it is not just a piece of plastic. Dieter Rams and Jonny Eve are great inspiration for us. Their principles are something we follow.
What trends in the world made it attractive to pursue the Oco as a business?
The DIY video surveillance market is growing insanely quick. We are very happy to be part of this trend. It is really exciting that we can help many people to make their homes and businesses secure.
What have been the most challenging parts of developing your product?
“I don’t think that cameras are the biggest threat to our privacy. You leave way more fingerprints when you search something or use social media.”
Hardware is very complicated. There are so many details from tooling, hardware design, and software integration. We are happy to have many experienced engineers on our team that have helped us to overcome many difficulties. The most challenging thing though is managing a company that’s spread all over the world. We are very diverse, we have people from US, France, China, Russia, Ukraine and several other countries working with us. But I think it is our strength not just a challenge. We can mix all the cultures and knowledge and create amazing products that are popular worldwide.
What have been the most challenging part about building your business?
Scaling is really hard. We are still growing and it is always about being focused, although there are so many great opportunities you want to pursue.
What are the most surprising use cases you’ve learned about with people using the Oco?
One family uses Oco to watch hedgehogs in their backyard. But most of the use cases are simple – check what’s going on when you are away from home. We have many customers that found out their cleaning ladies, plumbers, etc. were trying to steal something. We have some people that use Oco to monitor their elders.
In a future world where cameras are always rolling, how do you view the relationship between privacy and security?
I don’t think that cameras are the biggest threat to our privacy. You leave way more fingerprints when you search something or use social media. Cameras help to identify people, there is not much they can tell about you as an individual. Take London for example, they are everywhere and in fact they help the police a lot. But the camera system is not able to tell that you are looking for a new car and this is a new blue convertible. We don’t read your emails or messages. This kind of data is collected by social media companies, search engines, and then is sold to advertisers. And this is really scary.
What’s the future of Oco? Will people be wearing Oco cameras on their bodies? Or will other Oco gadgets for the household emerge?
We will be introducing new products for homes and small businesses. Both hardware and software. We are working a lot on new smart analytics and advanced computer vision features.
What is your vision for the smart home in 10 to 20 years?
“We have many customers that found out their cleaning ladies, plumbers, etc. were trying to steal something. ”
We have created hundreds of devices for our homes in the last few years. I think the biggest challenge that will be solved in 10-15 years is to help them talk to each other and make decisions without human interference. Some kind of AI that connects everything like Tony Stark’s Jarvis. For example, the sensor will be able to track water leaks and the camera will double check that there is a leak. Then it will send the signal to the local plumber, your smart lock will open the door and cameras will ensure that the plumber does everything right. And you will just receive one single notification that the problem has been resolved.
What is your favorite futuristic sci-fi movie or book? What do you think it tells us about what’s coming next for our species?
If we talk about movies, then maybe Bladerunner and Matrix.
I think humans will evolve into something different. We will be able to program our bodies to make them perfect. We will be connected to machines with our mind and we will always have data that we need. We will live longer… way longer. 100-150 years in the beginning, then maybe 200-250 or more. But I’m not sure that this kind of species can be called humans anymore. Imagine something that is stronger, smarter and quicker than you. Something that lives 200-300 years. This species will have different values, social structures.. everything. But the key question is what it will do with its undeveloped and dumb “brother” – homo sapiens? But you will see this species on the streets in 50-80 years from now.