Dubai: “I have this fancy lady who looks after my house and she never fails to wow me or my guests,” says the charming Ivano Iannelli, as he introduces you to Alexa.
You look around, expecting to see the love of his life, but you realise he is referring to a voice recognition platform. “She is the equivalent of the Siri on your phone and has a number of apps that I enable to run my home.”
The minute Iannelli enters his home, for instance, Alexa takes care of the setting, down to the shade of lighting and type of music — usually an Internet radio stream from Rome — that Iannelli likes.
"She understands my Italian accent well and makes me feel at home," he says."
"Even when I am not in, she reminds me about things around the house – whether it’s the washing machine that has to be switched on, a recipe that I need for dinner or a to-do list that must be accomplished for the day.”
As CEO of Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence, Iannelli’s green, tech initiatives in the UAE’s public domain hit the headlines regularly.
But few know the 40-year-old practises what he preaches in his individual capacity too, often piloting projects at home before he recommends them to others.
From solar powering his home, using energy-efficient lighting and driving an electric car to having a hassle-free, digital solution to his every need, Iannelli is the quintessential Mr Smart, who could well be the poster boy for Dubai as it strives to become the smartest city in the world.
“The last time I paid for fuel was in December 2016 which was when I bought my (electric car) Fisker Karma. My monthly consumption bill at Dh30-32 now is cheaper that what my Starbucks coffee costs me,” he says, as his car gets charged outside.
“Thanks to Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s recharge stations, I am able to do a two-hour top-up for my car at every other stop, whether it is for a meeting at the Emirates Towers or Madinat Jumeirah. Why, I even get to park for free right in front of Terminal 1 at Dubai Airport, because I can put my car on charge there.”
Iannelli, who is one of the pioneers in getting a residential solar panel installed in the UAE, said it caters to 30 per cent of the electricity demand in the house during off-peak hours.
He also saves money and energy through smart lighting. “I had eight regular bulbs in my kitchen. The first thing I did when I moved in was to replace them with LED lights, with each light half the cost of the regular bulb and a life span of 10,000 hours more. I don’t have to worry about their maintenance either. And of course, Alexa takes care of the light shades in keeping with my mood.”
The tech-savvy Iannelli’s home is a smart home. He has an Opus home entertainment system with all equipment linked via a Master Control Unit (MCU) to a number of zones like bedrooms and sub-zones like en-suite bathrooms.
These are individually accessed and controlled using Wall Control Units and System Remote Controls.
“My multi-media system enables me to watch a movie in any room or even at the outdoor cinema. I can also listen to my music anywhere as it is played wirelessly across all rooms through a Bose sound system,” says Iannelli.
He also employs Animote, an infra-red blaster through which he controls anything that would otherwise need a remote.
Examples include curtains, garage doors, TVs not connected to the Net, decorative lights and so on. Iannelli said he uses an app IFTTT (If Then This That) with which he can programme a series of options for any function though Alexa. “If the condition is met, the first action will be taken; if not, the second gets done.”
Another digitalised area of Iannelli’s life is healthcare. An electronic Healthscale connected to his smartphone keeps track of his body weight, water intake, exercise etc. “It gives me an overview of what I do. I can readily access my medical records as they are neatly filed.”
Iannelli admits he is heavily dependent on his smartphone. “The downside is that I have to constantly clear my inbox as I get flooded with emails. It can get ugly when the blue light flashes on the screen when I am having dinner with my son or significant other,” says the father of an eight-year-old.
He debunks the myth that adopting a green, tech-savvy lifestyle is expensive.
“Most of these technologies are cost-efficient or pay back for themselves. True, going in for some brands may be a lifestyle choice, but one can very well use an alternative with the same technology. Investment cost of a set-up is not a good enough reason for not adopting it, it’s just a lame excuse for lazy people.”