Home energy management was all over the place at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2011, with companies like GE boasting of the energy- and money-saving possibilities, seemingly setting up the sector for a bust-out year. But that burst of excitement faded, and as the year wore on we even saw efforts by Google and Microsoft run aground. But optimism about the space hasn’t disappeared, and there’s no better indication of that than a new effort by Lowe’s to take the smart home to the cloud.
The home-improvement giant is reaching across the Atlantic and hooking up with the U.K. company AlertMe to offer Iris, a system that the companies say will give U.S. consumers the ability to remotely monitor and control their home using pretty much any connected device, from a smartphone to a computer. The companies said Iris will be introduced in mid-2012 in select stores and on Lowes.com. The price was not given.
In promoting the partnership, AlertMe noted that “the market for home management systems to date has been restrained by prohibitively high costs and lack of standards-based ‘no new wires’ technologies.” The company said that with its technology, those roadblocks will be removed and Iris will deliver the ability to monitor and control thermostats, smart plugs, lighting, door locks, motion sensors, door/window/cabinet sensors and more.
Lowe’s had begun carrying Blue Line Innovation’s PowerCost system last year, but Iris looks to be a much more comprehensive, robust offering.
“The partnerships we have with manufacturers, utilities and service providers, allow us to bring a simple and innovative home management solution to market at price points that will appeal to mainstream consumers,” Kevin Meagher, who heads up the smart-home division for Lowe’s, said in a statement. “The AlertMe platform enables us to support the broadest range of products and deliver the benefits of a smart home that were previously only available to the most affluent consumers.
Blue Line apparently isn’t left out in the cold with Iris: The company said its PowerCost Monitor and WiFi Gateway will be “powering Iris with real time electricity data.” Another company claiming a piece of the Iris pie is Genability, which announced that Lowe’s would use its electricity pricing and optimization data and tools in Iris.