Mobile Developer Focuses on HVAC Apps
February 7, 2011
mobile world is hot and happening right now. As more and more consumers are
purchasing smartphones and tablets for both business and personal use, more
software applications are being developed specifically for these
One company that has decided to focus solely on designing mobile applications
for the HVAC industry is Carmel Software Corp., located in San Rafael,
According to Stephen Roth, principal at Carmel, “We were developing desktop
applications, but we sold all of our desktop software intellectual property to
Autodesk.” After selling off the desktop software portion of the business,
Carmel decided to build software for mobile devices.
“In the mobile world, we’re an old-timer,” Roth joked, “because we’ve been
developing these apps for almost two years now.” He added that Carmel’s app sales
are increasing every month, and this has been a profitable direction for the
company to pursue.
hottest sellers are its load calc apps. “When a technician wants to find out
how big of an air conditioner or furnace the customer needs, [using a load cal
app] they can do it within 10 minutes,” Roth said. He added, “And they can do
it accurately as opposed to relying on rule of thumb. Plus, they can do it
right in the field and can e-mail the results back to the office. It really
makes it convenient.”
Carmel offers load calc apps for both commercial and residential work. All of
the company’s apps can be purchased and downloaded through Apple’s iTunes
store. The company also hosts a basic overview of each of its apps on its
website at www.carmelsoft.com. Carmel’s apps for specific tasks such as duct
sizing or gas pipe sizing are available for individual purchase or in a bundled
app called the HVAC Toolkit.
When it comes to platform, Roth noted that currently Carmel’s apps for the
iPhone are most popular. “Most of our apps are developed for the iPhone, but
Android is definitely becoming more popular. That’s why we are developing all
of our apps for Android as well.”
He added that Carmel is also in the process of migrating all of its apps to
iPad format, although none are available for the iPad yet. “If you want to
develop a native iPad app, you have to change it so it will fit the screen,” he
In addition, Carmel receives requests for developing apps for Blackberry and
the new Windows phone. “Whatever people want, we will do it,” Roth said.
As an example, Carmel was hired by the American Society of Heating,
Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to custom develop mobile
apps for its various standards. Also, the company was recently hired to create
a custom app for a large utility’s equipment operations and maintenance staff.
GROWING MOBILE MARKET“The
thing about the mobile world is there are apps that are unique to a mobile
phone that wouldn’t be possible on a desktop computer,” Roth said.
For instance, he pointed to the GPS features now common on many phones.
“Smartphones know where you are,” he said.
Because the phone’s location can be determined by GPS, Roth said, Carmel has
designed an equipment locator app that will tell a user everything he needs to
know about the equipment he is standing next to. This app is primarily geared
for commercial contractors working on preventive maintenance, and Carmel plans
to release it within the next few weeks.
Users of the app will have to enter information about the equipment they
regularly work on in a central database. Then, from that point, Roth said, “You
can use your smartphone and stand next to a piece of equipment, and using
location services it will download information about that equipment to your
Roth pointed out that this instant access to the right information will
eliminate the need to “search for it in a desktop app or a ream of
As more apps like this are designed specifically for mobile users, the mobile
market will continue to heat up. And along with that, the competition among
developers will also heat up.
Acknowledging the competition, Roth said, “It’s definitely cluttered if you
type ‘HVAC’ [into the search bar] in the iTunes store.” He noted that many of
the apps on the market are fairly simple and aid the user with just one task
“like calculating airflow real quickly.”
In contrast, Roth said, Carmel’s strategy now and in the future will be to make
each app it develops “as powerful as possible, yet easy to use.”
Publication date: 02/07/2011