Smartphone maker Vivo to launch smart home platform

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Chinese smartphone manufacturer Vivo has announced its internet of things (IoT) strategy with the launch of its first connected platform: Jovi IoT.

At the announcement event in Beijing on September 6, the company detailed that it hoped to take on the smart home market, allowing users to control the devices in their homes using their smartphones through integration with its voice assistant, according to the local media.

In July, Vivo—along with appliance manufacturer Midea, smartphone manufactuer OPPO, and others—formed the IoT Open Ecology Alliance to ensure interoperability between devices, ease of use for consumers, and streamlining of development for manufacturers.

Smart home devices have an increasing number of applications in homes, including energy management, entertainments, security, and lighting. Alibaba, Xiaomi, Baidu, JD.com, Haier, and Hisense have already entered the market, providing a range of products from smart speakers to connected TVs and security systems.

As a result, the smart home market is growing rapidly. Currently, just 4.9% of Chinese homes make use of IoT devices. However, penetration is expected to reach 22.9% by 2022. This increase is set to drive sector-wide revenue from $7.1 million in 2018 to $26 million in 2022.

However, the growth of the market also brings risks. Some Chinese IoT devices, particularly those that provide connected video cameras have bad track records. In 2017, Xiongmai Technology, an IoT camera manufacturer based in Hangzhou, admitted that its cameras had been affected by the notorious Mirai malware. In the same year, cybersecurity firm Bitdefender found that over 175,000 cameras made by Shenzhen’s Neo Electronics could be remotely exploited.

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According to a report by the Chinese Cybersecurity Emergency Response Team (CN-CERT), the number of IoT exploits found by the organization increased by 120% in 2017, with 27,000 devices being targeted by malicious actors every day.

Additionally, security concerns have been raised about Vivo’s products in the past. After users of Vivi’s NEX, the company’s flagship smartphone, reported that the phone’s camera took unwanted photos, it was alleged that Baidu’s voice input app (百度输入法) on the phone was active and recording when the voice input app is not engaged.