Cloud platforms from firms such as iControl Networks, Xanboo, 4Home, Intamac and others aim at a growing number of providers boasting affordable and accessible HAN services. In addition to ADT Security Service’s Pulse, with its interactive home control service, Comcast/Xfinity, AT&T, Time Warner and soon-to-be Verizon are in the home monitoring game. It is expected that other cable and wireless communications service providers will also join the battle as will some electric utilities as the latter unveil smart grid applications for homeowners.
ENERGY MANAGEMENTMany folks including Dawes and Meagher feel that, with home security monitoring in a stall, now is the time to broaden home service offerings to include energy management. The reason is simple. Almost every home has electricity; federal spending is spurring installation of smart meters in homes with an ability to talk to and from the local utility; and, with the increasing cost of energy per kilowatt hour, homeowners will sooner than later see value in knowing and adjusting their energy use.
So, not surprisingly, more than a year ago, iControl Networks launched what it calls its ConnectedLife energy management solution. Additionally, it allows utilities to implement demand response and energy efficiency services to control peak energy use, optimize existing infrastructure and minimize future investment. With it, consumers can monitor, control and automate their own energy use, and maximize efficiency to meet their monthly expenditure and "green home" carbon footprint goals.
• Monitored energy use in real-time to track and compare daily, weekly and monthly trends to pre-set energy usage goals.
• Remote management and control of devices such as thermostats from the Web, iPhone or other mobile phone.
• Automation of home tools â€” using smart thermostat configurations to minimize use of high-energy consuming devices such as heating or AC units.
• Cost savings: The average energy bill can be reduced by a minimum of $10 to $20 per month.
At the heart of the iControl technology is “a nice, all-in-one touch screen-based wireless security system. It’s a simple-to-install solution. It integrates with existing security systems very well, has video technology and camera technology and great touch screen technology, too,” says Dawes. “It is a new value proposition combining traditional security monitoring with the ability to stay connected” to the home, thanks to the technology’s “mobility and convenience.”
BIG BRANDS TARGET SMART HOMESStill, programs such as iControl’s OpenSMA can draw some attention. The first partners in OpenSMA include Centralite, Comporium, Ember, Massillion, NewWave Communications, SMC Networks and The Weather Channel. OpenSMA is broadly divided into vertical segments with some members falling into multiple categories including: service providers (broadband or Internet), platform hardware, lifestyle devices, apps and infrastructure.
Other big brands are buying into the smart home concept, often through the home energy management angle. AT&T has recently acquired Xanboo, a platform developer of remote home management, one week after Motorola bought 4Home. AT&T has a long ago relationship with Xanboo. Back in 2006, it marketed the Xanboo remote monitoring system, a basic kit for monitoring cameras and security sensors which sold for $199 with a $9.95 monthly fee. Then in 2009, Xanboo, in conjunction with AT&T, rolled out a dealer program.