With predictions showing that the home automation industry will be worth tens of billions of dollars by the 2020s, it’s no wonder that a cable giant like Comcast Corp has started paying attention. In this case, they have done more than pay attention by acquiring iControl Networks, a leader in broadband home management. Experts believe that this acquisition will accelerate the deployment of iControl’s home automation services and energy management solutions.
Luis Toth, Comcast Ventures Managing Director, indicated that iControl is a leader in the broadband security and home management market and that it has significant growth potential. He added that the new funds would allow the company to add energy management to its home security solution. The acquisition will also give iControl’s deployment partners the full range of broadband services they want to offer customers.
The deal could have happened much sooner, but they initially had to deal with a legal challenge by Honeywell against the Alarm.com portion of the transaction. Daniel Herscovici, Comcast’s Senior VP and General Manager of Xfinity Home and Comcast Cable, indicated that it took them a few months to get through the necessary approvals, but the deal was finally signed. Herscovici added that Comcast can now start to integrate the Austin-based iControl team into the company fully.
How will they benefit from acquiring iControl?
iControl has a lot of things to offer Comcast. First, it brings over the research and development plans and also gives Comcast exclusive access to the Converge platform. Herscovici stated that the Converge platform would help Comcast to rapidly accelerate innovation in the company. This, in turn, will help their customers bring more IoT and automation into their homes.
The most exciting thing is that Comcast already has a strong TV business and it will be interesting how they will integrate this with iControl’s systems. Herscovici imagines a situation where interactions with a home automation system are made more seamless on the TV. He believes that in the future users could get a “one-click access to the thermostat” without having to open an app on their TV to use the display as a user interface.
Herscovici adds that Comcast’s has “tens of millions” of voice remotes together with “billions” of utterances that many don’t appreciate. The utterances are mostly for video search. But Herscovici believes that it has helped them learn what works and doesn’t work with voice control. Currently, their voice remote operates in a limited way with Xfinity Home as it does not directly control the house. Herscovici believes that in just a matter of months the utterances can possibly control the house directly.
He believes that their voice solutions have an advantage over other services like Amazon’s Alexa because of the big screen. Users can view their utterance or voice options on a big screen instead of memorizing a spoken list of options.
A Texas base
Comcast will also get to make a physical footprint in Austin, a city known for its tech talent. The cable company wants to create an IoT Engineering Center of Excellence in the Austin area as a means to attract new talent, especially from the University of Texas. The company will also benefit from the iControl’s international ventures into countries like Japan, Canada, and Australia. In the past, iControl served cable operators in those countries.
Comcast will reveal more about future intentions during the International Security Conference (ISC West) in Las Vegas later this year. Our users would recognize iControl’s Piper products from the site, and even a few of our blogs on security cameras. For more information about home automation, take a peek at our website today.