We have heard of contactless dining. We have heard of contactless office biometric systems. We have heard a lot of developments in the world of technology that minimizes the need for a human being to physical touch things around them. Things that may have be touched by others as well. If ever there was a perhaps more positive side of the developments of the past few months as the world has grappled with the Coronavirus pandemic, it is that we all are now more aware of the need for hygiene, the genuinely scary things that unseen virus and bacteria are capable and for the need to minimize risks as much as possible. For ourselves, and for everyone around us. In that contact, a contactless or touchless setup at your home and indeed the establishments you visit becomes relevant—particularly with smart appliances and indeed sanitaryware solutions.
You didn’t think of that, did you? An automatic sensor based faucet for the washbasin. A sensor based flushing system. Hand dryers operated by sensors that detect your hand’s presence and work without you having to press a button. Smart lighting solutions that don’t need a human input on a physical switch or controls. Indian company Jaquar Group is making a concerted push towards smarter bathroom and lighting solutions, and is relying on the five manufacturing units in India and one in South Korea to deliver the contactless home portfolio in these times when people are focusing more on smarter fixtures at home with an eye on health.
In an interaction with News18, Sandeep Shukla, Head of Marketing and Communications - Global Operations at the Jaquar Group, shared some insights into consumer preferences, how awareness has increased, the touch-free tech that Jaquar has developed, and more. Edited excerpts below.
There is an increased awareness about health and safety, including the safety that touch-free systems provide. Have you seen that becoming a factor in buying decisions, when consumers look for solutions for their homes?
The universally accepted lesson from the pandemic is the necessity for good hygiene. Regular and thorough hand washing is one of the best options for minimizing the spread of the virus. Hence, a clean washroom is a basic requirement and making sure that frequently accessed public areas are clean and hygienic now more than ever is critical.
Therefore, there is certainly an increased awareness and inclination toward purchasing products that withstand or support in the regular and unhindered functioning of safety and hygiene. They know they need to be more cognizant when making purchases for their homes. This has become a trend where consumers are seeking out more options where the touch factor may be minimized. Even in homes we now often see trends where certain frequently used guest areas and bathrooms are increasingly being fitted with touch-free products as consumers want to ensure the environment within their houses is as safe as is possible.
Can you tell us a bit about the sensors and the hardware at play in the Sensory Intelligence across the range?
Jaquar Group’s sensor intelligence technology supports energy and cost effectiveness. It detects and responds to inputs such as light, heat, motion, moisture, and pressure from the physical environment. These are supported by electrical, opto-electrical, or electronic devices composed of special electronic material that help determine the desired function and are utilized as per requirement and/or application.
Our smart bathroom products support in the minimization of contact with surfaces touched by multiple people in commercial areas such as malls, hotels, airports etc. We offer two types of contactless faucets catering to the ‘sensor’ and ‘sensibility’ ranges, basis style of function and technology. The retrofit and new-age Pressmatic faucets (Pillar tap, Bib tap and foot-operated valve with plug) from the ‘Sensibility’ range are easy to install and operate and are elbow or foot operated.
They help conserve 39% water by automatically shutting-off after 6-8 seconds of use. Whereas the sensor faucets (Aquisense Sensor Faucets and Sensotronic Sensor Faucets) are operated by a microwave motion sensor. They also have an advanced water-saving regulator. With an automatic shut-off the sensor faucets allow water to flow only when you need it and shuts off as soon as you move your hands away, resulting in zero wastage of water.
Q: Are these products also geared towards reducing consumption and being environmentally friendly too?
From the type of bath fittings to the light fixtures the emphasis does not just lie on the design but also functionality and sustainability. All products, irrespective of the touch-free caveat, are designed and developed on the tenet of sustainability – water or lighting solutions. Adhering to global quality certification, Jaquar Group’s manufacturing setup is a zero-waste plant recycling 5,00,000 litres of water every day and 4,221 Metric tonnes of brass every year. Its facilities also generate 6.23 MW of solar energy. Any remaining water from the above systems are treated further such that the Jaquar manufacturing units remain Zero Liquid Discharge Units.
The technology in our Pressmatic and sensor faucets allow only a fixed quantity of water to flow with each user interaction. This mechanism prevents water wastage during each use. They can be installed at high footfall areas including malls, hospital, commercial institutions to conserve more resources. The use of sensor faucets saves 59% water and the use of Pressmatic faucets conserves 39% in comparison to regular faucets.
All our smart lighting products too are user-friendly, adjustable through timers and high on energy conservation.
There will still be many consumers who would be apprehensive about the health advantages of touch free systems. What would you explain to them?
Touch-free solutions does not guarantee zero-contraction of germs, diseases and infection that are transmissible through touch. Touch-free solutions are preventive methods. At homes there is now a growth trajectory in terms of trends wherein disinfecting products are being increasingly used, for surfaces and appliances such as faucets, switchboards etc., that are regularly touched by multiple members in the house, to sanitise and minimize germ transmission.
Hence, touch-free solutions not only minimize the possibility of germ transmission but also decrease the level of anxiety involved in the maintenance and repeated cleaning of all touch-based surfaces and products.
What about commercial establishments?
On the matter of places of commercial and public usage, the option no longer stands for them to not incorporate touch-free solutions, such as sensor and retrofit new-age Pressmatic faucets, sensor concealed type flushing valves, sensor hand dryers, automatic soap dispensers and sensor-operated smart lights. The system not only helps in increasing the hygiene levels, but also saves water and energy.
Tell us a bit more about tech behind the touch free lighting and washroom solutions?
We have two types of touch-free faucets catering to either the ‘sensor’ or ‘sensibility’ ranges, as per style of function and technology. Our contactless sensor faucets are operated by a microwave motion sensor. They guarantee high longevity, optimum flow and temperature, and have an advanced water-saving regulator. With an automatic shut-off the sensor faucets allow water to flow only when you need it and shuts off as soon as you move your hands away, resulting in zero wastage of water.
The Jaquar BIDSPA WC is remote controlled and offers numerous features including adjustable seat and water flow temperature, nightlight, an air dryer and deodorizer. The Jaquar Automatic Soap Dispenser is sensor operated and comes with an LED that flashes when the batteries need to be replaced. Our sensor technology hand dryers facilitate automatic hand detection while blowing air from both the side vents. They are easier to operate and help dry wet hands faster while conserving energy, making them convenient for high-footfall zones such as airports, hotels and restaurants, and hospital bathrooms.
Our smart lighting solutions from Jaquar Lighting has offerings such as the Pride Smart, Strella Smart, and more. These products use microwave sensors which perform well as opposed to PIR sensors that cannot do so against thin walls and glass partitions.
Specifically, about the Jaquar Lighting solutions, is there competition from smart lighting systems that are quite affordable too, work with smartphone apps and even voice commands with Amazon Alexa or Google Home?
Yes, there is competition because smart lighting systems fall squarely in the portfolio that we operate in. However, consumers who know and use Jaquar are aware of the difference in quality and delivery of a Jaquar Lighting product vis-à-vis any other lighting products that may be available at a nominal price.
Wouldn’t those be simpler DIY setups for users too?
Although simpler setups, the DIY setups would only be so for a short period of time. Our smart lighting ranges offer a great portfolio that are tested repeatedly in our manufacturing facilities to withstand various scenarios, including but not limited to temperature and weather conditions, to ensure they are effective, safe and durable.
The DIY setup may work for the current setup but with upgraded technology entering the market the existing DIY product may not be able to upgrade/adapt to that level. However, a trusted and well-tested smart lighting solution provider offers products designed to adapt and better itself.
How quickly are we seeing this change happening?
Consumers seek aesthetically appealing yet functional products. Their choices for home products must speak to the theme and their personality. It must reflect their unique expression. Although a few trends around smart bathroom products have been underway since before COVID-19, we noticed that there has been an acceleration on that front. Customers, today, like to navigate everything on a personal level through apps and technology for engagement between themselves and appliances, minimizing physical touch between man and machine.