Lowe's Companies Inc. last week launched Iris™, its new cloud-based smart home solution. Iris allows homeowners to monitor and control their home from anywhere via smart phone, tablet or computer with a free basic level of service. Iris is currently available on Lowes.com and will be available in 500 stores by the end of August.

“We know that because of advances in technology and the Internet, one day virtually everything in the home will be connected and controlled by the homeowner via smart phone or tablet,” said Greg Bridgeford, Lowe’s chief customer officer. “We also know that what is currently available in the marketplace for the smart home simply isn’t working for homeowners because systems are complex and expensive. Iris changes the game. It offers our customers simple, affordable and customized solutions to make their homes safer, more efficient and customized to their needs, interests and life stage.”

Lowe’s partnered with AlertMe, a smart home technology company based in the United Kingdom, to develop the Iris platform and Hub.

“Today’s consumers are already using their smart phones to connect to everything important in their lives, so why should the home be any different?” said Mary Turner, chief executive officer of AlertMe. “We put the home ‘in the cloud’ bringing the customer and their home closer together. It’s about making interaction with your home more efficient and convenient and at a price that is affordable.”

Iris will launch with three different starter kits:

Iris Safe & Secure ($179) – This kit uses motion and contact sensors to monitor the home when away. Receive an email, text or call when alarm events happen at home or when the children arrive home from school. The kit includes an Iris Hub, motion sensors, a keypad and door, window and cabinet sensors.

Iris Comfort & Control ($179) – In addition to the Iris Hub, this kit includes a thermostat which makes programming simple with an intuitive user interface and remote control of home settings through the Iris app. The kit also includes a smart plug that can remotely control devices in the home and report back on the specific device’s current and historical energy usage.

Iris Smart Kit ($299) – This kit combines the features of Comfort & Control and Safe & Secure in a single kit to deliver a full smart home solution. The kit includes an Iris Hub, a motion sensor, a smart plug, a key pad, a range extender, a smart thermostat and two window, door and cabinet sensors.

Homeowners can add additional smart devices and sensors to fit their particular needs. Lowe’s is working with its broad network of vendor partners to further develop a wide range of devices that are compatible with Iris. Schlage, GE Jasco and First Alert have already announced plans to work with the Iris platform.

Iris can be installed directly by the homeowner and the basic level of monitoring service is free to the homeowner. This includes text alerts to the homeowner when alarms are triggered; remote control of connected devices, thermostats and locks; and access to remote video streaming from cameras in the home via smart phone or computer.

There is also a Premium service provided by Iris for $9.99 per month with no long-term contract obligations. The Premium service allows additional messaging to the homeowner for home events and includes Iris Magic. Magic allows customers to “program” their home through the use of home modes and customized rules for home management. These features provide simple ways for the homeowner to manage their home at night or while on vacation, utilizing scheduled device activation to move around in certain areas of the home at night or turn on lights and other devices on varying schedules when on vacation.

The Iris app is available for free download for both iOS (iPhone, iPod touch and iPad) and Android users. Customers can also sign in to manage their home and view their user interface by visiting Lowes.com/Iris on any computer.

Plans for Iris debuted at Consumer Electronics Show 2012. For information, visit www.Lowes.com/Iris.

SDM continues to report on this story. For more on this new offering from Lowe's, look for an upcoming story in the Aug. 16 issue of smartHOME eNews. To sign up to receive smartHOME eNews monthly, visit www.sdmmag.com/eNewsletters.