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Dialing out

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  • | 11:00 a.m. January 22, 2016
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The so-called “Internet of Things” is all the rage, as everything from your fridge to your car connects online.

But air conditioning entrepreneur Louis Bruno isn't buying into the hype that everything has to be connected to the Internet.

That's especially true of any monitoring device inside customers' homes, where security and privacy are paramount. “People don't want to be monitored,” says Louis Bruno, president and CEO of Bonita Springs-based Bruno Air Conditioning.

But that doesn't mean Bruno isn't busy developing his own early detection technology. On the contrary, he's created a device no bigger than an ant trap to detect problems inside the home, from moisture to mold and smoke. “We spent the last year developing this,” says Bruno.

Just don't call it a sensor or a monitoring device, two terms that turn some consumers off. Bruno calls the device a “dial” and he's giving it away free to customers who sign a maintenance agreement. He's dubbed the service “the frequency of comfort.”

For one thing, the device is not connected to the Internet. It's dialed into a frequency that's unique to Bruno and won't notify the repairman unless a customer agrees in advance. It has its own power source, too: a small solar panel installed outside the home. “It doesn't go down or fail,” Bruno says.

Bruno is shy about disclosing exactly how his device functions or how much money he spent to develop the technology. “It's the secret sauce,” he smiles when pressed.

The dial notifies the homeowner or business owner of potential leaks, significant temperature changes and other issues as frequently or infrequently as requested. Alerts can be delivered by text, email or via a special online portal.

Bruno's repair crews won't be notified unless that's the homeowner or business owner's choice. “It's based around choice,” Bruno says emphatically.

The point is that a small leak detected early could save a major repair or appliance replacement later. But wouldn't Bruno make more money replacing a unit than fixing a small leak? “I'm not worried about it cutting into sales if I can get more customers,” Bruno says.

“I want raving fans,” Bruno says, who recently added electrical and plumbing repairs. The service's uniqueness, he says, “is going to be an automatic referral.”

The idea came to him early last year when one of his large commercial customers asked when an air-conditioning unit reached the point where purchasing a new unit made more sense than repairing it. That's when Bruno set to work to create a device that would indicate that, hiring technology experts to develop it.

Bruno, who expanded out of Southwest Florida to Orlando and Tampa late last year, says he started offering the service six weeks ago. “There's been no resistance,” he says.

Follow Jean Gruss on Twitter @JeanGruss


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