Laipac puts the ‘thing’ in IoT
By Stephen Law, Editor EP&TElectronics Wireless Engineering IoT Medical Wearable Technology 3G mobile biotech design Editor Pick IoT medical security wearable wireless
Toronto-area design firm wins over customers and users around the world
Well before IoT was ‘a thing’, Laipac Technology Inc. was quickly establishing itself in the emerging Internet of Things design space. Founded in 1999 by Canadian entrepreneurs Diego Lai and Maria Pacini with a mere $10,000 to their firm’s name, the Toronto-area business quickly grew to become a global leader in IoT products and services with customers all around the globe.
From its beginning, the vision of Laipac was simple according to Lai – “provide peace of mind to customers by crafting the absolute best, most reliable, and easiest-to-use locator devices on the market.”
The hard work eventually paid off, as the IoT development and design firm has been recognized and decorated with a long list of innovator, design and even export related awards. Laipac has brought to market a bevy of successful IoT related devices and solutions. Among them include the LooK Watch – a standalone Smartwatch with cellphone connectivity, built-in SOS Button, WiFi Bluetooth, heart rate sensor, advanced quad core processor with GPS, multiple motion sensors, and a high-grade stainless steel body. The watch is also water resistant, equipped with an AMOLED display and amazing, eye-catching colors. Additionally, the LooK Watch comes with valuable and critical new smart-functions, like the SOS Button, preprogrammed with emergency contact numbers; fall detection, integrated accelerometers and compass sensors; false alarm detection, a built-in alarm system; geofence, enabling the customization of multiple virtual fences; virtual nurse, monitoring heart rates with medication reminders; and of course, a fitness tracker.
Another winner includes the S911 Enforcer electronic monitoring bracelet with tamper and security alerts that allows fast over-the-air configuration of single or multiple geofences, regular check-ins, security alerts, and prohibited zones. Of late, the firm released the LooK SPOT is a smartphone-based point-of-care COVID-19 antigen test device using Lateral Flow Immunoassay (LFIA) technology. LooK SPOT uses AI and machine learning to identify the COVID-19 virus with a testing time under 5 minutes, and an accuracy over 95%.
EP&T took some time to speak with co-founder Diego Lai about Laipac’s success formula and its somewhat unique approach to business.
Laipac Technology Inc. was launched with a mere $10,000. How did you spend that money to get things going?
We used that money to rent a 1,200-sq-ft office in Richmond Hill Ontario (northeast of Toronto) and bought computers and desks. That was pretty much what we did. We were new immigrants from Argentina with hope and also uncertainty in a new country. Today our office is 8,000-sq-ft in Richmond Hill with a staff of eight engineers on site and 10 engineers working remotely.
Something we never thought about when we started the company. We never thought as immigrants, we could come to a country like Canada and offer employment opportunities to others. We were just focusing on hard work and hope for a better future.
How do your educational backgrounds and prior work experiences relate to what you have both created with Laipac?
I’m an electronic engineer by trade, and Maria has a business background and great ideas.
How important is it that you and your team achieve acknowledgment for its efforts?
I think recognition is beneficial when we use them to improve ourselves. There is always someone who knows more than us and does better than us.
Are the products manufactured and branded by Laipac also all designed by your engineering team?
Yes. We do concept to production by our own team. We manufacture all of our products in Greater Toronto Area using contract manufacturers.
You describe Laipac’s work environment as very multicultural, filled with talented engineers & employees from all around the globe. Explain the advantages of working with a diverse team.
We focus on the language of engineering, and we only see the talent, not the skin color or cultural background. If you can handle the engineering challenges and also don’t mind working with “the glass is half-full’ type of person, welcome!
Has Laipac always been focused on creating IoT related devices? If not, what other areas of design?
Actually yes. Before IoT, it was called M2M – or Machine to Machine. Prior to that, it was referred to as telemetry. Therefore, the IoT concept has been around for more than 20-years. We are blessed to be part of it since the beginning.
How does Laipac deliver all of the necessary design elements that go into an IoT design?
That is an interesting question, as most designs require constant updating to the technology. It also requires us to have the ability to learn fast. We have improved in this area and become more efficient along the way. We also have a good relationship with our vendors, and they are also familiar with our roadmap. Therefore, we discuss new technology frequently.
Your designs and products have found their way into many diverse user sectors, such as security, law enforcement, trucking, banking and healthcare. How did you gain acceptance by OEMs in those sectors?
Most importantly, we are provided the opportunity to present the solution to our customers. We do study the problems they are experiencing. A famous tech person once said that you must to show the customer what they need before they even know it.
Laipac is also recognized as an industry leader in the vital field of mobile healthcare solutions. You state on your website: “We are dedicated to offering the safest, most reliable, durable, and affordable IoT devices on the market.”
How do you ensure that is always the case?
I guess that we have that confidence. Plus, we also do our homework.
How much of the company’s energy goes into maintaining the success and the evolution of existing product designs versus the creation of new ones?
We continuously see new solutions / ideas to solve the problems. Maria is the Chief of Innovation and she is very good with new ideas. We also want to make sure the products can have a longer life cycle. Therefore, we balance that and make sure we do not abandon the existing products unless the technology is too old.
Your company’s mission is altruistic and quite heartfelt: “We desire to improve the quality of life, protect human beings & valuable assets, and ensure that any object is as safe and secure as possible. Our daily goal is to save one person at a time through our technology.”
Where does this vision of seeing a safer future come from?
It comes from our faith in Jesus Christ. We have the purpose of helping others with this gift we received from God. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know how to explain all this.
Laipac is committed to maintaining its market-leading position by continuing to develop tailored solutions to meet its clients’ needs, and currently exports products to over 100 countries across the globe.
What percentage of Laipac’s overall business is conducted with Canadian customers?
We are an export company, and our sales in Canada occupies only 5% of our total sales. We would like it to be more active in our local market. Our biggest markets are the USA, Latin America and Europe.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted your business?
Has the firm put more emphasis on the design and development of products – such as the LooK SPOT – Point-of-Care COVID-19 Test?
The pandemic has impacted a lot because the whole world was shut down. All projects and orders were on hold. Some were canceled. The good thing is that there was no time to panic. We started to think about how we could help. We saw that we could provide an alternative test which is real-time with IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) technology that may help for the economic recovery. Thus, the idea and concept of LooK SPOT was born in April 2020.
Of all the successful products Laipac Technology has released (LooK SPOT, S911 Enforcer, Guardian Angel Connect) is there any one device that you are most proud of, based on how it came together?
Well, they are like your babies. If there is any preference, one tends to keep it to oneself.
Regarding future plans for the company, where do you see Laipac in the next five years, given the continuing growth and acceptance of IoT related product into our everyday lives.
We hope that we can continue to provide peace of mind to people, some we know and some we don’t. But, one thing is certain, we make the products with passion and love. All the good things come out from that, they are wonderful by-products.