In the Field with Rajiv Jain, co-founder of PLAY

Rajiv Jain discusses the market in Mumbai, voice control, and the requirements facing residential installers in the future.

Rajiv Jain: co-founder of PLAY (with Sachin Jain) and CEDIA member, based in Mumbai, India

Specialises in: Control of home automation, lighting, commercial audio video and home AV distribution, as well as networking and Crestron automation software and custom modules

What prompted you and your co-founder to create PLAY? When did you open your doors?

Rajiv Jain, PLAY mumbaiIt all began more than 20 years ago with the growing affordability and increased penetration of computers and the internet. Our founder initially started offering solutions for data storage on disks and tapes. Over the years, the organisation expanded its technology portfolio, and developed itself as one of the main solution providers in emerging technologies. 

We each pride ourselves on being a trusted advisor to our customers, and building relationships based on honesty and transparency, we steer away from over-selling. The growth and success achieved has been possible by striving to meet the global quality standards, and offering solutions that focus on the requirement objectives.

How was business the first two years? What were some of the challenges you faced as a new integration company in your area?

Business in the first two years was primarily focused on education. Computers were just getting mainstream and companies were excited about presenting straight from a computer, instead of printing slides. The challenge during this time was to spread our reach. However the price of multimedia projectors was prohibitive, so convincing customers that this product was for them was difficult.

What is the most popular request you get from clients? Why is the service in demand and how do you approach fulfilling the brief?

The most popular request that we get from customers right now is audio and video distribution, and for it to be played with multiple sources. Listening to music in the rooms they are present in, to playing the same audio across the house is what really excites today’s customer.

Our approach is usually simple: understanding the number of rooms the audio needs to be streamed to and the number of occupants in the house, alongside the client’s preference of how they wish to play or stream their music. Once that is determined, we can then design the system to take care of their personal preference. It could be from streaming religious hymns in the morning across the entire house at a fixed time, to each person in the house streaming music from their own phones, or from a fixed storage or internet radio station.

Can you tell us about your favourite integration project? What challenges did you face in completing the project and how did you solve them?

My favourite integration project so far was a residential property in Mumbai where the customer asked us to look into his lifestyle, and design a suitable system for him. He wasn’t interested in the price at all – the focus was that all his needs were met. The client was very well known manufacturer in India. We had to study his lifestyle for 15 days whilst being completely invisible at his house. Once we had done that, it took another 30 days to finalise the system with him.

PLAY installation in Mumbai home

What do you see as the most essential service you provide? Why?

Today, the most essential service we provide is networking. We have had so many calls over the years regarding system failure, only to realise that the network had stopped working. After two years of going through networking saga at client’s houses, we started providing that service as part of our package. This ensures that the client has a system that is tuned and running as they had intended it to do so.

With IoT and voice control becoming larger aspects of custom integration how are you approaching educating your clients about this automation technologies? What has the response been from your clients?

IoT is just a new name for what we have been doing since 2002. Our home controls were always internet enabled and the client could control his lights and air conditioning from his computer from anywhere in the world, and in the past 8 years, from this mobile device.

Audio controls are now becoming more responsive to Indian accents and we have a full-fledged module developed for our home controls with Alexa. Clients seem to be excited about voice control and we will be integrating our first project with Alexa very soon.

What do you anticipate will be a gaming changing integration technology for you firm? Why and how will integrators at large benefit from this technology? What does it signal about the future of custom integration in India?

Larger adoption of virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality in the consumer arena is going to define the future of automation. Whereas all this is more hardware, customised software to run this hardware will become a necessity. Audio controls will assume a significant portion of controls.

The future of custom integration will thus assume a very complex role. Integrators will have to be proficient in all new technologies, their applications, and how they will work in a home environment. Home networking will form an important aspect.  Integrators that don’t keep pace with these new technologies will find themselves out of business very soon.  Future custom integration space is very difficult to predict today. However, education on these technologies at international forums is extremely important, as we have to keep ourselves abreast with new developments.

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