PATRICK SERRATO: SETTING INDUSTRY STANDARDS THAT MATTER

Midea America’s Head of IoT talks about his work with the Alliance and the exciting future of IoT

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“I just love technology,” says Patrick Serrato, with an unabashed smile, “I love finding new solutions, new use cases. I geek out on it and that’s what has really motivated me throughout my career.”

As Head of IoT for Midea America, Patrick gets to be involved with a whole host of exciting projects and listening to him talk about his work, it’s hard to not get carried away with his enthusiasm.

“I’ve been in consumer electronics for over 20 years and over half of that has been spent in smart home. I’ve worked on everything from window sensors and motion detectors to voice assistants to entire smart home ecosystems,” recalls Patrick as he looks back on his career.

Yet despite having already spent more than two decades in the industry, he jumped at the opportunity to work at Midea when it came along. “What really excited me about Midea was their potential for growth in the US."

 

Patrick gets to be involved with a wide range of projects in his role as Head of IoT for Midea America. “In my role, I’m involved in both the R&D direction and the product marketing side of IoT. So, I spend time at both the R&D facility in Kentucky, where I work with the engineers to test new products, and at our offices in New Jersey, where I help the product managers plan their IoT strategies and sit down with the marketing teams on the product messaging.”

 

“I also work with our IoT partnerships such as Apple, Amazon, and Google to look for opportunities to collaborate on use cases and marketing. We’ve been up to Amazon headquarters for all-day meetings to strategize what we can do between our smart products and their ecosystem.”

 

As much as Patrick enjoys testing new products and collaborating with the likes of Google and Amazon, the highlight of his time at Midea so far has arguably been the work he has done with Matter. As Patrick admits himself, “I know it’s silly to say, but it’s practically a dream come true.”

 

Matter is a new industry standard created by the Connectivity Standards Alliance, which ensures reliable and secure connectivity between smart devices. Commonly referred to as the Alliance, members include Amazon, Apple, Google, Huawei, and Samsung, to name but a few. Joining the Alliance and working on Matter was a priority for Patrick from day one.

 

“Until Matter came along, one of the largest consumer pain points was that there was no communications standard between smart devices. But Matter is more than just a way to communicate with other devices at home. It also represents the most secure connectivity standard ever created at a time when cyber security concerns are a top deterrent for end users. On top of that, it also offers a unified setup process where a Matter certified light bulb would have the same set up process as a Matter certified refrigerator,“ explains Patrick.

 

“So, I started to drum up support for Midea to become an Alliance board member and it took us about a year to get in touch with the Alliance, make our case to join the board, and then to be voted in.”

 

Midea did not join the Alliance board to just make up the numbers and Patrick and his colleagues quickly got to work. “Being a board member is not just paying a fee and then having your name on the board. You are there to make decisions that are going to impact the entire smart home industry and we made good on our promise after we were voted in.”

 

In less than one year as an Alliance board member, Midea has already made many important contributions to creating new industry standards for the smart home industry.

 

“On the day that Matter was officially launched in Amsterdam we were also able to announce that the Midea U air conditioner was certified. That was a powerful statement because we joined the development of Matter late and we didn’t have the same amount of time or the benefit of the test events that others had. So, for us to be able to announce we had certification before a lot of others showed how serious Midea was about Matter.”

 

At the next Member’s meeting in Seoul, Patrick and the team unveiled the first air purifier to be compatible with Matter before following up with something even bigger at the next meeting in Boston. “We brought along the first dishwasher to be Matter compatible, which was such a big deal. Most of the products you would see at a member’s meeting are light bulbs and smart plugs, but here we were with a major household appliance. It was a whole new area for Matter and it showed that Midea was taking a leading role at the Alliance.”

 

It’s fair to say that Patrick is proud of the work that the Midea is doing with the Alliance on Matter. “We are making decisions that impact a multi-billion-dollar market. It’s a big honor and it’s something I’m very passionate about.”

 

The work that Patrick has done with Matter highlights how exciting of an area IoT is right now, and he believes it’s a great field to get into for young people just starting out in their careers.

 

“IoT has such a big future because there’s just so much still unknown. We’re really just starting to scratch the surface. It’s like the Wild West where we struck gold 10 years ago, but we are yet to find most of the gold,” says Patrick with a comparison that reflects his Californian background.

 

“And that’s why it’s so exciting at Midea because there is so much still to be discovered and the company has the resources to do so. When it wants to, this company can move mountains.”