Once considered a luxury only the wealthy could afford, home automation solutions are becoming a larger part of the mainstream residential security market.
Just seven months after merging with rival uControl, iControl Networks this week announced that its' home management software platform called "OpenHome," would be integrated with security sensors from home security products provider Visonic and would also be used in security panels used by U.S. cable giant Comcast as part of their Xfinity Home Security service.
"A few things have happened at just the right time. The price of the technology has come down and it's simple enough to use where the mass market can understand it and afford it," said Jim Johnson, co-CEO of iControl. "The second thing is you've got the broadband service providers coming in and the competitive environment that that creates is going to demand innovation and so I think it's a very exciting time for consumers in that just having a home security system... is not enough anymore.
"You've got to have system that you look at interactively, that includes cameras and that is the basis for energy management and a whole host of other exciting applications going forward. For that same $30 a month, you not only get unrivaled protection of your home, your family and your property, but you have the ability to interact with it. You can view it remotely, you can view your family remotely, you can manage your thermostat remotely, and you can setup rules when you enter your home to make the lights come on. It's just a much richer experience than the consumer associated with home security in the past."
In addition to integrating with existing legacy control panels and sensors, iControl also makes their own integrated control panel with a touchscreen keypad that can manage other wireless sensors and devices.
Johnson said that Comcast, which announced this week that it would be expanding its Xfinity Home Security service to additional markets throughout the U.S. following a successful launch last year in Houston, selected iControl's software platform due to its robust functionality.
"They wanted this (security service) to be a platform," he explained. "Home security is the initial tenant for the initial deployment, but if you want to deploy energy management on top of that, an application that tells what the weather looks like outside or an application does a number of other things, Comcast wants to absolutely be able to do that. Home security is stuck at around 22 percent penetration and they want to grow this market significantly and they believe the applications you build on top of security are key to doing that."
According to Johnson, Visonic, through its partnership with iControl, will now be able to distribute their products to any of iControl's broadband customers which include South Carolina-based cable firm Comporium and now Comcast. Johnson said that iControl is also currently working with several other broadband service providers, which will be announced in the coming weeks.