Tag Archives: arrayent

Simplicity key to manufacturers’ home automation solutions

by Steve Blum • , , , , , ,

Cloud-based server checks to see how it's running. You can look inside yourself to see if you need milk.

Three competing, and perhaps ultimately complementary, home automation business models are emerging:

  • Manufacturer supported.
  • Consumer-centric.
  • Carrier managed platform.

Lowes and AT&T moved aggressively at CES last week to position themselves as leaders in the consumer and service provider categories, respectively. Several companies were pitching to manufacturers, but the leader in that space looks to be Arrayent at this point.

The focus was on “it just works” simplicity for consumers. Manufacturers determine what kind of interactive features to offer customers and Arrayent provides the server-based support to make it possible.

Whirlpool is their marquee account. The refrigerator they had on display looked ordinary enough, but connected to Arrayent's infrastructure to provide a deliberately simple feature set of diagnostic and energy management support. Other manufacturers took notice.

“Once the news got out that Arrayent is the connected product platform, CPP, powering Whirlpool’s consumer appliance line, our booth was swarmed,” said Bob Dahlberg, vice president of business development at Arrayent. “Two memorable quotes of the week were ‘where have you been for two years?' and ‘we have been struggling to connect appliances for ten years, and with cloud connectivity we have half a chance to be successful'.”

With consumers providing the Internet connectivity – either directly via WiFi or with a wireless bridge in between – the cost to manufacturers of supporting products via the cloud is low. Whirlpool expects to more than offset the cost through warranty repair savings and the value of maintaining ongoing contact with consumers.

Big appliances are long term purchases, with expected lifetimes in the ten to twenty year range. Providing server-side support allows for at least some level of continuous functionality upgrades over that period, and builds a relationship with the brand that should pay dividends when products are eventually replaced.

Home automation and wearable computing hits at Pepcom

by Steve Blum • , , , , ,

The FitBit is the bit that fits inside the wristband.

Along with Alabama, Pepcom was a winner tonight. The second of the three major press group gropes at CES, it featured a tailgate party theme and the Notre Dame/Alabama game on big screens. Nearly 200 companies set up small displays at the MGM Grand, showing new products and new brand positioning.

Nexia was in the latter category. It's a re-branding of the Schlage Link home automation system. By establishing an independent brand identity, it can better position itself as a home automation platform for any Z-Wave compliant product.

Other home automation plays included…

  • Arrayent, a middleware company that's protocol agnostic and works directly for manufacturers, who then set up whatever relationship they want with consumers. More about them later.
  • Whirlpool, which is taking a well-considered step backward and focusing on networking appliances for truly useful reasons, rather than just slapping stuff onto refrigerators and washing machines.
  • Nest, which makes a thermostat that connects via WiFi to a server and watches what you do. The end result, they say, is that it learns your habits and adapts accordingly, eliminating the need for consumers to program it.

There were some interesting wearable computing products. Fitbit is an accelerometer that snaps into a nice enough looking wristband and monitors your fitness activities over the course of the day.

Basis was showing a wrist device that monitors your daily activity too, as well as your heart rate, perspiration and skin temperature, and gives you a health assessment via an app or web portal. And Martian Watch is a cool accessory to your smart phone. It sits on your wrist and lets you give voice commands and receive text messages via Bluetooth.