Home Automation Podcast Episode #188: An Industry Q&A With Casey Levy-Tulloch
In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, Casey Levy-Tulloch, Manager of Business Development at Josh.ai, shares on the importance of privacy and security with a voice control service.
This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Casey Levy-Tulloch. Recorded live on Wednesday, September 29th, 2021, at 12:30 p.m. EST.
About Casey Levy-Tulloch
Casey Levy-Tulloch is a visionary focused on building business relationships and developing new market growth opportunities. Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area by entrepreneurial parents, Casey grew up tinkering with technology and has always had a passion for innovation. He graduated from the University of Southern California in 2015 with a degree in Business Administration. Casey joined the Josh.ai team as an early employee over four years ago and now manages the company's business strategy and partnerships. As a former collegiate athlete, he brings a competitive drive and team-oriented mindset that has helped drive Josh.ai’s rapid growth.
- The challenges of getting a start-up business off the ground
- The simple, magical experience of Josh.ai
- The importance of privacy and security with a voice control service
- The One Firefly and Josh.ai partnership
Ron: Alright, folks, happy Wednesday. Today is September 29th, 2021. It's a little bit after 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. I am. I have been on the road for the first time in a long time. Frankly, the last time I was even on an airplane came home from the ProSource event in Las Vegas in 2020. March of 2020, I can tell you the day, March 11th of 2020, I flew home from Las Vegas, and last week I went out to Nashville for the Azione conference. It was a decision made by the powers that be. That said, you know, if we're going to hold an industry event, let's go to the hot spot in the United States for Delta. Let's go to Nashville. My sales team got on board, so I went out there with Josh, went out there with Steven, and frankly, we had a great time. It was great to see the Azione staff. It was great to see all the manufacturers, to see all the dealers. It was well over 200 people or so. I want to say the number I heard, at least preliminarily, that they would be around 230 people there. And it was a great time. Our guest today for Show 188, is Casey. He's the Manager of Business Development at Josh.ai.
I got to see some of the other members of the Josh team, including Chad, who's the Director of Sales, and he went on stage and gave a fun presentation on the future of the interface in the home. That, coupled with the growth of voice in the home, is associated with our new partnership with Josh, which I will talk a little bit about towards the end of this. Towards the end of this show, we'll talk about what that marketing collaboration looks like, but we asked Casey to come on and talk to us to learn more about him and learn more about Josh and what's going on there. He said, let's do it. We're bringing it on, Casey. So without further ado, let me bring Casey in, and let's get this show started. Casey, how are you, sir?
Casey: I'm doing great. Thanks so much for having me on. Alex is our number one fan here. I am here and excited to be here. Thanks again. I can't wait to talk about Josh and everything that we're doing today.
Ron: You can see me fumble a little bit there with my software. My LinkedIn integration, for some reason, randomly decided not to cooperate. I hope you can empathize with me a little bit. You guys are a control system, and now and then, there may be a hiccup in the matrix. Can you relate to some of my pain there live?
Casey: Absolutely. Yeah. It's been not only over the last four years plus at Josh, but I have also had my share of tech support. Before, we had a tech support team doing tech support and working on all those little snafus in the field. But also, I remember during the pandemic when everything was, you know, webinar centric or everybody was learning Zoom and how to coordinate these, these webinars where Alex would be on these panels or putting together the sort of content. I'd be the one scrambling in the background, trying to make it all make all the magic happen, push themselves, pull the levers, keep everyone up on the internet, keep them live. Turn on the lights so that people thought it was Josh. during a webinar.
Ron: There you go, Josh. Turn on the lights. Casey's over there. I love it, Casey. Let's get you introduced. What is your role at Josh A.I., and what is Josh A.I. for the couple of people in the world that may not know who Josh is?
Casey: Yeah. For those of you who don't know yet, and maybe this will help explain my role that we just were featured upon the first-ever episode of Smart Home Nation, a TV show on the FYI network. I think they're looking at adding a few other platforms as well, but that's part of what I do here is work with our not only integration partners, be it a controlling partner like Crestron or Control4 or a very key integration partner like Lutron or someone else, but also our strategic partner. So that's a fun new BD opportunity like One Firefly in the working partnership we just rolled out or a new vertical or a new sort of development that's strategic in some way or another, like this TV show that we coordinated. We're fortunate enough to be on the pilot and the first show featured. Alex did a great job on that with the show host. We also are in the process, and you may have seen in the press recently our IHG Hotels and Resorts pilot at the Kimpton in Palm Springs.
That's another project that I've been very fortunate to kind of lead the charge on, not only working with all of our partners involved, like Lutron and Ketra, Sonos, Samsung, and Dish. But also, the understanding that client experience and guest experience, what sort of opportunity we see in that hospitality market. I think the pandemic, if anything, has expedited some of those commercial and new vertical opportunities outside of residential.
Ron: There's a lot to be said for not having to touch all of the different items in your hotel room, for sure, not knowing who was there in front of you and how well that space was cleaned.
Casey: Exactly, yeah. People want touchless. They also wish to ease of use. I'm wearing what Josh is all about. This is our new shirt for this year we were going to wear. It is clear, so it says Josh.ai simple, magical, bright, and that does sum it up. These are three keywords that I think took a lot of time for our team to come up with and finalize, but that is really what the job experience is all about. We lead with voice control. It's what we're known for. Our niche is the smart home or your connected living spaces, the hotel room or conference room. We even have Josh going into some restaurants and bars today as well, which is pretty fun.
On top of that, the privacy aspects. We are voice control. But we want to make sure that your clients are in their homes, whether they're having a private conversation moment, if they're going to be able to understand what data we collect and how we use it to be transparent with all. I think that's a value add and something that when people are putting microphones in any room, whether in their smart home or a hospital and a hotel room or a conference room, people are.
They're getting warier of what's being listened to. For us privacy, security is a huge part of the Josh experience as well. Finally, the magic, whether you're an older adult assisted living. We see a huge opportunity there. Whether you're elderly, a tech startup guy, or whether you're a kid, any member of the family, you should be able to talk to Josh. To put it all in a nutshell and sum up Josh, I always talk about talking to Josh, your friend who is in the room with you, and that friend understands the context of what's currently on what's controllable. If I give a command to a place of music, I can then follow that up with "Turn it down or turn it up," and it knows it is the music volume I control. It's a little more natural and ultimately just seamless. That's part of that magical experience is it just works no matter who is talking to it, no matter the verbiage, the syntax of music.
Ron: I have a long list of things I want to talk to you about, including the hotel deal that you guys did the Lutron keypad, and I'm going to give you the feedback from my wife on that. The short version is now that's going in our house, but I want to back up and talk about you and your background. What's your background? How did you end up here being this advocate for Josh? Where did you come from?
Casey: Yeah, I came out of nowhere. I grew up in Northern California to two very entrepreneurial parents who were in their businesses from home, so they gravitated towards the startup scene. It's funny. My mom ran her own business doing packaging replication exclusive album artwork and sets. She did some work with Warner Music, the Grateful Dead, based there. I was always artsy and creative. Pretty, pretty cool there. Hearing my parents all the time like they weren't going into the office, so they had their own offices in our house. I was always around people working on and developed that work ethic, I think, pretty early in life.
My dad is a manufacturer's rep in Northern California, so I grew up in our industry, within our industry. It's funny. I would never have thought that I would have ended up in the same industry as him. Granted, we're very different sides of it. I am one manufacturer and more on the sales and rough side of things. But yeah, it was funny just growing up and like seeing blueprints of homes that I was working on and leaders and projects and hearing about these amazing properties that he was installing or were walking with integrators. What has been funny has been the four-plus years I've been at Josh is more used to pre-COVID, especially travel all around for training. Whenever I would go to Northern California, and there's any dealer up there, they would say, "You're Casey Jan's kid." And they're like, "I know your dad for twenty-five years. He has a very good reputation. Everybody seems to like me as well.
Ron: I was going to say that could work for you or against you.
Casey: Yeah, exactly. I think it's opened a few doors for us on the BD and the dealer relationship side as well. It's been nice just to be able to pick his brain on the industry. I guess the relationships and how to navigate all this because it's a lot. There's a lot of brands, a lot of dealers. A lot is going on, and having him as a resource has been very helpful.
Ron: They say the apple doesn't fall from the tree, and I can imagine when you were younger, you never would have guessed that you'd be at this point in your career serving the same customer. Your dad has worked with integrators for his whole career. And here you are. You've chosen your path, and you're serving integrators. You're in the same space. Did you see that coming when you went to college?
Casey: Never. I originally went to college, and this is a long story with my dad. We grew up growing up, always tinkering in the garage. When I went to college, he asked me what I would want for my dorm room. It was like, Dad, I want my sound system to blow everybody else's away. He is a dealer for very premium home theater and sound equipment. So I got this set of Genalex in my dorm room, and that'll travel with me since then. Now I've got my Sonos connected to my Genalex, which Josh controls, and I just got to fill out the whole smartphone experience. It's been very cool to go on this journey. Essentially where I graduated college baseball, I went to UC Davis, started there, and graduated from USC in 2015 with a degree in Business Administration, took some entrepreneurship classes there.
I thought being an athlete in a previous life, I've had a few surgeries that kind of caught up with me. I went to USC to ultimately figure out what I wanted to do. Being in LA, I'm still in LA today. I was more or more thinking, OK, maybe the sports entertainment industry that staying involved in that somehow. In my first year out of college, I was working at Fox Sports, and it was not exactly what I had, what I had hoped, or what I picture. I look back at not only the corporate environment or the business that I'd want to be involved in as far as involvement and responsibility and autonomy and understanding that entrepreneurial spirit from my family, but also the having internship experience previously with other tech startups for venture capital being from the Bay Area. It's kind of ingrained in us.
Ron: In the water.
Casey: Exactly, it's in the water to work with technology. It was kind of funny. I went on this trip of being Jewish on my mom's side. I was fortunate to go on this trip called Birthright, where you could spend ten days in Israel and go to the homeland and learn all about the culture. It worked out very nicely where I went on that trip. A lot of thought-provoking and just internally looking at myself in the mirror internally. When I got back, I saw this job posting from our Head of Business Development at Josh. He was an MBA at USC. We connected as Trojans. I saw this job posting over four years ago saying that Josh was looking for somebody on a business team. I reached out to him on LinkedIn. I ran the company and the job past my dad because I knew he was in the industry, and I said, "What do you think of this company? Have you heard of them?" And at the time, I think Josh had only been on innovation alley at CEDIA in Dallas.
They hadn't blown out much at that point. He told me he hadn't heard of Josh yet, but looking at the website and reading about what they do, if this company can do what they say they can do, this will change the industry forever. That was good enough for me. It made me want to pursue that opportunity, and a phone call on an in-person interview with Matt or with Alex, with some of the team and everything, worked out for the rest of them.
Ron: Working in a startup can be challenging with small businesses, and I'm going to call our customers, the typical installation companies, technology contracting businesses in this industry. I'll call them small businesses. At least on the residential side, most of them are probably less than $10 or $20 million a year in revenue speaking USD terms. What was it about your upbringing around your two entrepreneurial parents that had you feel? What did you learn from that, or what did you take in that that had you go? I'm ready to work in a startup, and the startup will work with these small businesses. Those are two exciting but challenging paths. What was it from your past that that had you go? I'm down for this. Let's go.
Casey: Yeah, I've always been one. Whether with sports or school, or any walk of life, I'm always trying to raise my bar. I think that's part of sport's competitive nature—kind of a chip on my shoulder. And I bring that into the work side of things as well, which is a lot of ways is a good thing. In other ways, I think I've learned a lot in the last few years and come out of tone down a bit. But that's where I relate with my parents and the entrepreneurial spirit. Ultimately that American dream of the day you work as hard as you can, and you'll hopefully be rewarded for that. But when I was looking at the larger companies and working at a huge corporation like Fox Sports at that time, I saw this whole plan or a ladder to climb. I've never been one to climb a ladder. I always talked about different sports when I was eight years old, and they didn't even know how kids my age to play in at all. I was playing with my friend's older brothers because I was good enough to do so. I've always played up. I've always tried to get into a higher-weight class. I like that aspect of being in a startup.
Ultimately I get very fortunate to be in a position I am in, which I share where when I started, I was thrown definitely into the deep end and was able to work quickly. But Josh is viewed as a leader in AI and voice control and many innovative techs in this industry. I know I'm young at 28, but to be considered a leader and an innovator in that space is such a young age that gives you confidence and there being around people like Alex and our co-founder and CTO Tim. You learn a lot. I feel like today I am. Hopefully, I am an expert.
Ron: Alex is mature beyond his years. I'm not telling him. I know he's watching. I'm not telling him anything he doesn't already know, and I'm sure many have told him. But it's really neat to see Alex. I've seen him in several different settings around many other industry leaders, and he commands the room and everyone wants to listen to what he has to say and listen to his perspective. It's really neat. I can imagine that is an inspiring place to work. He's impressive. Now I'm not saying others aren't impressive. I don't know all of the team players you work with every day, but he is impressive.
Casey: Yeah, again, I think that's probably the worst part of the pandemic. The last year and a half. We don't have an office in LA anymore, but we're going into the office and just being around very smart, innovative people. That's probably the worst part of it is just being from working from home and not being around that type of culture. Granted, we're on a million Zoom calls a week, but that doesn't do that.
"Having spent a little bit of face time with obviously my friends and my customers and my staff last week, and nothing beats face time."
Ron: It's not the same. I can tell you, having spent a little bit of face time with obviously my friends and my customers and my staff last week, and nothing beats face time. I was on the other side of that pendulum swing. We at One Firefly went virtual in 2015, so we placed our staff around the country and the US and Mexico, and we were zooming all day long. When the pandemic hit everyone, the rest of the world was thrust into that. Before that, I'd be the person saying, But guys, you don't understand virtual. There are so many benefits, and there are so many benefits. And I still love being a virtual company, but I do miss face time and quality interactions. I'm hopeful for all of us that will get back to more of that. Casey talks to us about simple, magical, private. You said these are three new words. This is a new shirt. These are words that define the Josh.ai brand. Can you take us through those three words? And where did they come from? Where are they derived?
"Whether it's our clients and the experience itself, just talking or something, there's always a place for every interface in the smart home."
Casey: Yeah. For us, I'll start with simple. Whether it's our clients and the experience itself, just talking or something, there's always a place for every interface in the smart home. Whether a remote touch panel or a keypad, nothing beats serving your remote or manually adjusting something. That's why we also have an app with Josh as well, where if I wanted to fine-tune the brightness of the label, the volume of my music, or my TV, then I can do that. That's an option for you. As far as simplicity goes. Voice is coming up next. It is in our opinion, that next wave and that next interface of usability, where one of the most rewarding things that we see here is our clients that granted, we work with a lot of amazing clients, whether they're successful people with amazing homes, properties or if they're people that are their day to day lives are approved by our technology.
Those are kind of the more humbling projects that we've seen. We've had clients in wheelchairs that are quadriplegic or that have cerebral palsy or handicaps of some sort. Veterans as well, where we can see how the simplicity of voice control and the ease of use transforms how they live every day and for the better. Whether it's just tactile and it means a touch interface for any client with our app or with voice and just being able to communicate with something, not having to memorize commands or in Josh's natural language processing do the work. That's where not only can I say something like dim the lights or lower the lights or make it darker, even say something like that, but also the assumptions that we make. Josh isn't necessarily an end-all-be-all system, and we don't view the smart home space as a winner, take-all type of mentality. Alexa, Google, and the mass-market assistants also do some cool things to provide support scores or recipes for food or something like that. But Josh, we don't do those types of assistant actions today.
We can still give you the weather and stock off stock quotes and things like that. But we know that our issues are women's faces, and we're going to make assumptions and kind of position our intelligence around that. So when I started at Josh, one of my daily roles in the morning was to review the chat history from the internal servers and also the servers that had enabled us to be able to track some of those commands so that we can also make us all feel better and experience better. In doing that, I think I got a really deep knowledge of how our natural language processing works, how to communicate with Josh, but also just how understanding the kind of context of the hub and seeing the technology improve over the years has been cool to see because I feel somewhat responsible for all humans or engineering tickets all the time. But one of the things that we see is I might not enunciate quickly, or I might refer to something in a way that sort of my words. It's a joke, but I always like to charge up talk mode. So it does not, but we might be able to help you out, even if you're out of here. Because if I say razor shaves because we know that, well, you're not going to be razer anything in your home. But what do razor shaves sound like? Raise the shades, and we'll still raise the shadows in that.
Not only the addiction, the syntax, the verbiage that we do understand, but also some of the intuitiveness that given accents, depending on your geography and where the user based or they're just not enunciating, we're able to create that really simple, easy experience. Despite some of these shortcomings, ultimately.
Ron: Can you and just staying on this word simple and the power of voice and kind of the functional capabilities of Josh? I'm not an expert, so my audience knows I know of this stuff, but I don't know it in great detail. I'm going to make a statement of what I think I know. And then please correct me. I think this might help people. I believe that Josh gives me the ability to put microphones in my different rooms, and if I give it that command, raise the shades, it knows that I'm in that room, and therefore I don't have to enunciate the name of that room. It knows that where I'm at, and thus the command is for that space. Is that true? And is that different than what a Google or an Amazon Assistant would do with those assistants require the annunciation of the room I'm in as a requirement for a command?
Casey: Exactly. Scalability is huge for us and as a differentiator because our microphones, they know what room they belong to on every microphone during the job and what we're doing with homes in our industry where that contextual awareness matters because you've got a ten thousand twenty thousand forty thousand square foot property that. I think that's where the learning and especially on the sales side of things are already. We're starting to grasp that concept because today's voice control has been a little more of a more or less a gimmick in a way where it's like, "Hey, I have company over. Let me show you this cool party time scene." I have to repeat that verbatim. I can't differentiate from what that command trigger is. It does the simultaneous runs, I see. That's all it does.
Ron: It runs a macro.
Casey: Yeah, exactly. For us, it's that's great. We have fun with it, but we want to make the voice a little more usable. We want to make it a little more legitimate as an interface. And that's where the microphone and awareness come into play, where again, you're in a bigger home, you have six bedrooms. You might have a couple of different living rooms or what you might call a living room where you, of course, can do that on the programming side. But when I walk into a room and just say, dim the lights, open the shades, and listen to Kanye West, that's pretty simple and magical to execute three different commands.
Ron: What if you're in a position where there's more than one mic that could hear you?
Casey: Yes. I mean, we usually use beamforming. We have our microphones communicate with one another. Whichever microphone hears you, the loudest and clearest will be the one that ultimately interprets you as being in that space. They'll never be an instance where two different microphones both hear you. And then they both think that you're talking to them like one will tickle.
Ron: I'm using this opportunity. I know I'm going to have Josh in my house one day, and I'm using this opportunity with you, Casey, to get all of the questions I know my wife's going to ask me. So I appreciate you playing along. What if I did want a command that I wanted to happen everywhere?
Casey: You can easily say, and that's one of the contextual nuances we provide that I think is one of the coolest features I can talk about. Enough is I can easily group commands, either by saying something like turn off the lights everywhere. It's every light in your project just by including everywhere in that command. Or let's say you've got a multi-story house or different zones like a backyard front yard. Let's say you're throwing a party and you want to play music across the entire first floor. You just say, "Josh, listen to relaxing music or listen to my party playlist on the first floor," and they will group everything, every audio zone on the first floor.
Ron: Alright, I will slow down the rapid-fire questions because I could ask you so many, but I'm going to say what you just said, you're outside. How do you handle voice out?
Casey: Yeah, we've been outside a lot over the years. We don't have an outdoor-rated microphone yet, so we have people that have deployed a Josh micro, and they put it in a cabinet, and they'll move it outside on those nicer days where they can have voice control if they want it there. But right now, we've seen some creative solutions. We've had dealers. That's always kind of fun to see what these guys do. We've had them put Josh in a little plexiglass box. We've had them seen Josh under a roof overhang. It all depends on the climate here that you're in. In Florida, humidity, the heat might not be the best.
Ron: Florida's salty, humid air will eat up a lot of electronics. That's for sure.
Casey: Yeah, but just the one the cool things is our clients do with outdoor too is the Josh app. You can, of course, control things with tiles and, as you would expect, with any other control solution. But with the app, you can also get voice commands through your near-field microphone and your iPhone or iPod or text commands as well. So if you want to give voice commands, you can push the mic button in the app, and Josh will still be able to do it ultimately.
Ron: Alright, so magic, I think I know where you're going to go with this because I'm going to say talking to your house and having stuff happen by itself is pretty magical. I've shared this maybe on a show or two, but I've been doing this show for four years, so I'm not sure if the listeners today have heard me say this. I'll be brief. When I joined the industry in 2000 at Lutron, I traveled in South Florida, in Orlando, with great rep Warren Lanza within the first month or two. He was with Lutron at the time. Warren took me to Disney, to Disney World, and he took me to Epcot and the Home of the Future demo because, at that time, I think Lutron Rick Schuett had partnered with Disney to put Lutron dimming at and Epcot at Home of the Future. So the idea that your lights would dim was a new front edge technology to dim your lights.
The demonstration where everyone would sit in the audience and watch the home of the future demo, the person on stage would speak to the room, tell the lights to dim and tell the shades to open. This was twenty-one years ago for me, and that was pretty magical to see that happen. I'm assuming, and I'm not trying to steal any thunder, but is it just the power of voice that you guys want to drive home with the word magic or magical?
Casey: It's funny because we get asked, "Do you have a sheet of commands I can give my home? Or do you have example commands?" We do. But when we've gone engineering and asked them, "How many commands can I give Josh? What was the limit of commands?" It's infinite. There is no between the action verbs, the materials you can use to describe light fixtures, scallions or chandeliers, or content search content always changing with new shows on Netflix or channels or cable or dish or music providers, new songs and albums of artists coming out. There is no limit to what Josh can do? I think that part of the magic and our technology is extraordinary is that Josh is always getting better.
Every two weeks, we have a cadence where our team pushes software updates over the air so that your Josh experience, whether it's new features, integrations, or anything to help make that experience better, your home is always improving. I think that follows that Tesla model, as far as it unlocks new features of the car for us. As a proud, recently somewhat new Tesla owner. I don't. But yeah, I would say that's part of the magic is just the system always gets better, and there's no limit to what you can do. That's an extension of just again, the natural language processing the simplicity and being able to say your point, talk about dimming the lights and shades, and that you're not even getting into, some of the wow factors. You show a client a demo of "Watch Stranger Things on Netflix," and it turns on your TV switches inputs, fires up your surround sound audio, launches straight into an episode of Stranger Things. That's pretty amazing to be able to just ask for something and have it happen. I want to joke out here from a lot of dealers is "I ask my kids or my wife or something, I don't get it. I asked Josh for something, and I get it." That's what we do.
Ron: That's amazing. I agree. That is pretty magical. Alright. Let's talk about private. Tell me about the private, and I'll tell you my quick anecdote, and it always freaks me out. It happened just again. The other happened this week. This is Wednesday. It happened on Monday. I was having dinner with my family. We were talking about something and randomly Google. There's a Google thing voice thing in my son's area where he does homework. It was clearly listening to our whole conversation, and it gave a random answer to a question that was never asked, and it always totally breaks his silence. We look over and like, "What did that say? And why was it answering? We weren't talking to it." No one addressed. Hey, Google, it just gave us a response. I think I know that Josh doesn't do that. Is that the privacy part, or can you describe that?
Casey: That's a part of it. Josh. Every assistant has a wake via your associate with Google. So so soon, you'll have Josh to deal with that. Do you know a guy or two?
Ron: I do.
Casey: Yeah. But for us, Josh is always listening for the way forward. That's "OK, Josh." We have "Hey, Josh," and us, something we noticed as users got used to saying, "Hey," because of some other assistance out there. Now they talk to that. We have what I think is the only dual door phrase or dual accepted wake phrase of "OK and Hey, Josh," which either one again is kind of part of that inclusivity that empowerment. However, you want to talk to us or wake us up. You can do that. You can kind of just read the tea leaves of all of the other assistants from the mass market out there.
They have been subpoenaed because there's been a conversation about a body in the backyard or something. That's where they are trying to get evidence of what's being said in this home because there's a hot mic in here. There's also the conversations are being shared, and all this data has been leaked and things like that where for us, we understand our clientele in this channel being luxury-focused, they're successful. They're celebrities. They're politicians or just a regular guy who doesn't want to have their data out there and values their privacy. What's said behind closed doors should stay there. From the technical standpoint, how we process as much as we can walk away and from the user experience side of things where we give our clients full transparency into the data we can collect. But we also provide them with the option of disabling any of those features. The downside of that is there's a little bit of a learning period using Voice and Josh. There's that's our number one troubleshooting tool, and that's what we train our viewers on is. If you see these sorts of commands in the chat history, the first week or two of your clients using the system, this is where an alias or additional configuration or programming might need to be taken. Consider him.
It's a give and takes. But we understand that in this industry, the clientele we're catering to and ultimately to, to earn the trust of our clients, we need to be very transparent with their privacy and data. That's part of the extra part of what you get with the experience is we're a company focused on the smart home and automation. We're not the biggest search engine or marketplace in the world. A revenue model is to monetize data or market you or other things based on your search history or what you might be talking about. When we were in our LA office, we would have every system, every microphone set up so that we could kind of tinker and see who did what. We talked about travel and Austin, Texas, for a meeting or Nashville or Seattle or wherever. And the next thing I know, I'm on my Facebook or Instagram somewhere online, and I see Delta Ads or Hilton from trips to Austin. Well, I know why I'm getting that I didn't, I didn't search warrant just yet, but I know what I'm saying.
Ron: Yeah, no, that makes sense. And that is always spooky. You talk about a vacation to Greece. The next thing you know, you look on your Facebook feed, and there are now ads for travel companies sending you trying to send you to Greece. It's a weird world, and your TVs are listening, right? I've heard all sorts of interesting things going out there with voice, but not with Josh. If we could switch gears, what do you see in terms of trends, right? In terms of the dealer adoption of voice in the home, what's happening out there from a macro standpoint? Of course, your customers in the industries list are going to be listening or watching this interview. Not to lead the witness, but what do you see in terms of trends?
Casey: Yeah, I think it's been really exciting to see from a very macro view. When I started Josh, we had 30 or 40 dealers across the country, and I was the guy who built the original Mac mini servers in the office and the Alexa scale and shipped those out original shipping department. Now we have a much bigger team to handle that. But it's been cool to see over the last four years. We now have over 700 dealers. I want to say 750 across the US and Canada. To see voice kind of the transition of us educating and trying to be a thought leader, or more of an educator on voice and why you should adopt this. It's now become we need a voice, and we understand the challenges the CEDIA custom installation smart home answer for our needs. That's our goal. It's been really rewarding to see that thought transition among viewers. We also see on the forums, Facebook groups all that good stuff where it's been cool to see where our team has been, the ones jumping in the past to help alleviate a support question or something like that.
Now we're starting to see dealers who were early adopters of Josh Power users answering one another's questions for new dealers peer to peer. So again, buy-in from the industry has been cool to see as far as macro trends we see in-home technology and things. It's funny that we just put out this campaign with Sonance around invisibility, and there's more to come here. But as far as architecture and where our new products will fit in with voice being no UI. Josh is the perfect complement to that being the first architectural microphone, and ultimately you can. It'll be very minimal on your wallet, but you can also put a plastic square or circular cap over it, make it invisible and ultimately just walk into a room, start talking, and we'll be there to listen to you. I think the architecture design of that meeting in the middle was originally kind of a nightmare scenario. I got this touch panel on this keypad and this iPad and everything else on the wall. I don't want to put a microphone here as well. That's going to be another thing that's cluttering my wall. The Lutron wallplate that we just announced will soon be in your room. That's going to be a huge project that consolidates control and allows you to have that manual style of touch, whether the lighting scene or a scene on the Lutron side. Still, it also gives you that limitless possibility with voice control and the other side of that content. The design, design, build community, and technology community is starting to see that relationship forming more than ever.
From the pandemic, it's been interesting to see the transition out of a lot of budgets and a lot of time spent on home now, and we see more. More knowledge and more interest in smart home technology never before. I think our whole industry is very fortunate to be working in this industry because, for all of us, we've been busier over the last year and a half. That hasn't been a case of working to hire, or it's nobody's getting laid off. Yeah, like other industries. For us, it's understanding. And I think working from home for many people has actually set the stage very well for us and all of our connected technology partners because now people are working from home. They're saying, why is my network cutting out the middle of the day when I'm in a meeting, so people are investing in their networks, which is the foundation of your smart home? Now you're building on that. OK, what automation? What sort of smart technology tools can I add into my home, whether it's my home office, whether it's a common space in my house, that's another, I would say evolution that we're seeing is that or an extra bedroom or a living room, people are trying to make those spaces a little more versatile where it's an official part of the day.
Maybe it's like a home theater by default. Now I may not be able to go to the game or not go to the movies. I think now things are opening up, depending on where you are in the country. But more content is being consumed at home than ever before, and I want to enjoy that content in a way that maybe I didn't back. Yeah, just overall investment in infrastructure and technology.
Ron: You're describing a lot of the positives of the pandemic. And I say that with all due respect to people who are listening and have suffered or know people who have suffered, and there's a lot of people in all of our lives that have had a rough go of it the past year and a half. But that said, home construction residential construction has been booming. That's just a fact. Our industry has benefited from that, but it also has caused supply chain issues. From a macroeconomic standpoint, there are just shortages of containers around the world. There are shortages of chips. There are shortages of this, that, and the other. Josh has not been able to withstand that. Like most manufacturers, most manufacturers in our space have had challenges. Where are you guys at with that? I want to say on social media. I saw some exciting shipment news. I don't know if I'm breaking any news here. I think you've already broken it, but where are you guys at with shipping the new stuff?
Casey: We want to learn about it from the rooftops. Anywhere we can what people know that the things are shipping our new products. As you said, our entire industry. Every manufacturer has encountered some sort of supply chain issue. It's been tough, especially trying to get a new product off the ground. Our team has had to pivot during this production and process, with Josh Nano being a new, fully new product to the latest technology is going into it with Josh Core. It's a testament to our engineering team and Alex and the leadership of being able to ultimately, as a startup, be very nimble, move quickly and not wait for what we might have expected originally, but being able to pivot and re-engineer some of these components of Josh Nano so that we could get it out as quickly as possible. We're very excited. I know we announced this last year, and delays are never fun, but it's the nature of the game right now.
"We're in a new world, my man. It's a lot of things that are just hard to predict in society and business and that are frankly out of our control."
Ron: We're in a new world, my man. It's a lot of things that are just hard to predict in society and business and that are frankly out of our control. I don't think anyone judges you for it, but I know that your architectural microphone called the Nano is beautiful, and it's in demand. I know people are itching to get into installations.
Casey: Yeah, it's coming. I know we cleared customs just the other day. So if they haven't started shipping from our Denver facility today, they will be very soon. So Christmas will come early for a few quite a few dealers and clients this next week or so.
Ron: Is it known how much flow there will be after that, or is it going to come as it comes? Do you know you're going to get this backlog dealt with? Do you know that the floodgates have opened, and you're going to be able to ship based on demand? Or is that still up in the air?
Casey: We're working through it right now.
Ron: Not trying to put you on the spot here publicly, but I mean, what can you talk about because I know that there's a lot of demand out there for the Nano?
Casey: Based on our projections and what we're seeing. We should be able to fulfill any and all demands through the rest of the year. We're working right now with the assumptions of kind of a lower bar of a longer lead time and working backward and getting those quantities back right now. I guess we've learned this process now, and as a team, we're working through that, but there are no shortages on the horizon. Go ahead, dealers. That being said, order now because you want to make sure that you have them in stock and available and ready for your projects. Because to your point, we had dealers that are witnesses now. I've got client projects that I need this year for it. Get in stock, and we'll make sure we have.
Ron: What is the core? Educate me, educate our audience. I know the Micro, I know the Nano. But one of the other big announcements was the Core. What is that in the architecture of a Josh system?
Casey: Yeah, Josh Core is the brain of a Josh native system. Josh Micro was our first product, and after going through the process of manufacturing that microphone and having a little bit of a delay there, we've been through this before. It's not new again. Always never fun. But it's not new to the industry either with any kind of any brand, right? Josh Micro is our current far-field microphone is also the processor. It's funny when I would educate viewers about Josh Micro. They would always ask me, "Where's the processor?" It is the processor. And then they kind of follow up with, "That can't be. How is this little microphone going to run my entire home?" Well, it does. You had a Josh Micro per room where you want that contextual room and voice awareness. Now we've taken that step further again to the interior design architectural focus with Josh Nano, where Josh Nano is too small to have a processor to have us. Do you have a speaker built into it for audible feedback? Josh Nano is just a far-field microphone. It is a very powerful microphone.
It has a better microphone array or an improved microphone array compared to Josh Micro. Again, we'll be updating all of our hardware as the technology allows. But Josh Nano feeds back and is hard-wired Josh Micro, Wi-Fi or POV, But Josh Nano goes back to Josh Core, the brand system. When I give a command to Josh Nano in any room, it then goes again in the room. Awareness goes right to Core, who processors. The command executes the command, and on the back of Josh Core, we have what we're calling voice link outputs. We have a technology with Sonos that we released a year or two ago called voice cast, and that allows us to pipe Josh's voice through a Sonos speaker or port going to your architectural speakers. They're a very integrated smart home experience of your walls or your ceiling. Talking back to you now with Josh for that experience is extended to any system or Josh because we need it. Josh Core Voice Link is running through your audio matrix or your TV distribution, and it's routing that response back to the room and your in-ceiling, your actual speaker stuff. The Josh Nano experience is very integrated and more intelligent in that way. Josh Core is now the processor in the rack that includes failover, so you can have two Josh Cores for redundancy and ensure stability for a system. But it's ultimately the engine that's making the Josh Nano experience well.
Ron: I'm going to ask a technical question. And this again might be silly, so I apologize. But the Core needs a network connection. So the Core will report to the cloud, or could a Josh system with a Nano run just locally without an external connection?
Casey: We do have to go to the cloud today for speech and text translation, and that's where we have been asked, yacht integrators, in particular, are always asking for voice control, but also more local options are something we're looking into. But I might say just from the bandwidth perspective. It would have to be a limited version, most likely, a voice command where, again, the simplicity, the magic. We want things to be limitless and you to ask for anything. So if we had to offer an offline version of Josh today, we might have to dial that down a little bit and offer a very.
Ron: I'm not trying to question you in that direction. I was just curious about that from the person that wanted super-duper privacy to know there was no way the microphone in the house would be reporting up to the cloud. So I just was curious if that was a thing. It sounds like not yet, but maybe there'll be a limited functionality that would allow that in the future.
Casey: Yeah, there's always a technology we're looking into and keeping a close eye on. When that technology is there, we don't rule it out because we're all about privacy and that that level of data security, and if it helps assuage any concerns, we do not get too technical. Still, we do use military-grade encryption for any sort of cloud-to-cloud communication because, as I say, you asked for the Beatles. We have to figure out what the Beatles are. And that is done with the knowledge graph search and pinging Spotify or Tidal, Apple Music, or whoever to the cloud. There are certain things like turn on the lights. That's pretty easy. That's pretty normal. But when you ask for content, that's where things get a little more involved.
Ron: Let's close out if we can with the partnership between your company and ours. Maybe in your words. What is the marketing collaboration, and what do you want your listeners to know?
Casey: Yeah. First off, I would just say we've been you, and I have been talking for a while about this type of partnership, and it's been an absolute pleasure working with Jessica and her team. She's a champ. She has probably dealt with me more than I would want to deal with. She's been great and very helpful on the way, and we're still thinking of new strategies and new ways to make this as accessible as possible. But One Firefly and Josh, we just announced that you were our first marketing partner a couple of weeks ago. We have been very protective of Alex and Co, very protective of the brand of the image that we've created. So we're very excited to be able now to leverage One Firefly as an expert in the industry.
"I think that also speaks to our commitment to the CEDIA industry of working with leading trading partners like yourselves that are helping dealers grow their business, and we start this partnership to kick things off."
I think that also speaks to our commitment to the CEDIA industry of working with leading trading partners like yourselves that are helping dealers grow their business, and we start this partnership to kick things off. We want to reward our dealers that are performing and giving them the content on the website, the way out services, email campaigns, social media management, whatever they need. Right now, Josh dealers who are selling and active with us are receiving an incentive rebate quarterly as a percentage of their sales. We're also looking at other options and programs going in 2022 now that we've already kind of entered Q4 in about a year. But yeah, this partnership is a way for our dealers to leverage the money that we're giving back to them based on their performance and reinvest it in their business with marketing content and One Firefly's services. So when dealers ask us, "Hey, can you help me with my website, the copy here, or you have a training video or an email blast to my client list or something like that?" We've been more than happy to do that over the years, and I've seen a lot of dealer websites, and now I'm very excited to be able to pass them over to you and say, "Hey, we already worked with the One Firefly team. They're experts. We've created this amazing content for you." Ultimately grow one another's business and process.
Ron: I think that's great. I'm going to attempt. We'll see if technology behaves. Oh my gosh. I'm on a brand new computer, Casey, and it wants me to do all sorts of things to get technology to behavior. Attempt to do this life here. I don't know if this will work. It looks like I've got to authorize it. Let's see here. It looks like I did authorize it, but it wants a complete reboot of my computer before it will let me share my screen, so that's not going to happen today. But for those listening or curious, we've collaborated with Casey and created some beautiful website content that would allow you to tell the Josh story if that's your interest and across any marketing strategies they may be employing.
And I think it's very generous of Josh to help fund some of those activities to ultimately fund the growth of their dealers. We're excited to work with you, Casey, and your team. It has been fun, and I'm glad we got Jessica on our team because we're both bandwidth-restricted in terms of manpower. We have big ambitions and a limited amount of hours in the day. I'm glad we were able to make that happen. Here you see, you see in the background, my dog Charlotte just jumped in. She just took her seat there behind us. For those watching the video, you just saw Charlotte enter the room. Casey, for those listening and watching, how can everyone get in touch with you directly or learn more about Josh? What would you recommend?
Ron: Awesome. Casey, it has been a pleasure having you on. Let's see here. This shows 188 of Automation Unplugged. Thanks for joining us.
Casey: Thanks for having me as well. It's been great, and I would hesitate to ask, but I'll ask, How did I do us justice at Josh after your Alex episode? You know what? I looked that up, and Alex, your fearless leader, joined me for episode 62, actually back on January 30th of 2019. That's doing the math there. What does that a couple of years? And I think we were due for our Josh update and education regarding what's going on. I think you did a stellar job. And for those that are listening and watching, I think you're going to have to drop into the comments and and and let Casey know how he did. Don't be shy out there. But it was a lot of fun to have you on and to get the latest from Josh. Thanks for coming on for us. Thanks again. And another hundred episodes or so here we'll do it again.
Ron: Awesome. Love it. Alright, folks. There you have it, Casey. He is Manager of Business Development over at Josh.ai, and we got to learn more about him. We got to learn more about Josh. I know many of you are excited because they're shipping Nanos and Cores, and I know that some projects are waiting for that gear, and I didn't get to talk about it on air. I have several other topics I wanted to go through with Casey. So we'll have to do it again. But the Lutron keypad that they launched, which features the embedding of the Nano in the keypad and the metal finishes, is gorgeous. I can imagine if you guys are out showing or networking with your architects or designers. And I suppose if you support and do business with Lutron and Josh, I can't imagine that isn't a hot topic or a hot conversation. My wife saw it, Danielle, and she and I have met Josh a few times and had lunch and dinner with him, so she knows who Alex is. I just said I had lunch with Josh. We've had lunch and dinner with Alex, and she saw that keypad, and she goes, "Oh, that's it. That is sexy. That's what's cool."
I imagine many of you feel the same way. But on that note, team, we are going to be back into the flow again. Sorry for we're not streaming into LinkedIn. I will get that troubleshooting done this week before our next show next week. I am on a brand new computer, and there's no doubt it's that transition from my old machine to this new machine that caused that bugaboo. But on that note, I'm going to sign off, and here I'll put our closing card on the screen, and I'll see you all next week and be, well, be safe. Thanks, everyone.
Casey joined the Josh.ai team as an early employee over four years ago and now manages the company's business strategy and partnerships as Manager of Business Development. As a former collegiate athlete, he brings a competitive drive and team-oriented mindset that has helped drive Josh.ai’s rapid growth.
Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly become the leading marketing firm specializing in integrated technology and security. The One Firefly team works hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution Mercury Pro.
Resources and links from the interview:
- Josh Nano
- Automation Unplugged Episode #62 with Alex from Josh.ai
- One Firefly and Josh.ai new partnership