January 06, 2012
| by Steven Castle
Big box hardware chain Lowe’s has announced it will sell a cloud-based home management system called Iris that allows customers the ability to monitor and control their home from anywhere by using a smartphone or computer. Iris will be introduced in mid-2012 in selected stores and on Lowes.com.
The system will be based on U.K.-based company AlertMe’s Smart Home platform and home hub. AlertMe provides home energy management and connected home services both to consumers and through partners such as utilities, telecommunications companies and retailers.
Lowe’s Iris system will include energy and home management applications to monitor and control thermostats, smart plugs, lighting, door locks, motion sensors, door/window/cabinet sensors and energy sources like solar PV. The system will reportedly support wireless ZigBee and Z-Wave-based products and work with additional standards over time.
In the U.K., AlertMe’s SmartMeter Reader attaches to a home’s electricity meter, which wirelessly and securely connects to a SmartHub, allowing you to view information about your energy use anytime, anywhere. The SmartHub, SmartReader and SmartDisplay sell for about $77, with accessories like SmartPlugs for monitoring devices an add-ons. A SmartMonitoring kit including motion and contact sensors and a key fob runs for about $231.
In addition, AlertMe’s data services can provide insight into a home’s energy use while providing recommendations on how to reduce consumption or use energy more efficiently.
Lowe’s Iris system, if priced comparatively, could offer stiff competition to connected home/security/ energy management packages offers by big service providers ADT, Comcast, Verizon, Vivint, Alarm.com and likely AT&T—while introducing many consumers to home connectivity and energy management.
“The Smart Home will be the next major consumer technology innovation space. Consumers are used to living their lives on the go, online and increasingly on their smartphones,” says said Mary Turner, CEO of AlertMe. “They have been connected to all aspects of their lives including their work, friends and even their bank through the cloud for some time. Now they can be connected to their homes, in the same easy-to-use, friendly and innovative, always-on way.”
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates