Insteon Smartlabs Acquired by Investment Firm

July 12, 2017

If you are a fan of home automation products like smart bulbs, smart switches, and smart cameras, then you are probably familiar with the Insteon brand. Insteon is the product development arm of its mother company Smartlabs. Smarthome is the home-technology distributor arm for the brand. The private Seattle-based investment firm called Richmond Capital Partners recently acquired Smartlabs.

Richmond Capital Partners

Rob Lilleness will be the chairman and the CEO as part of the acquisition agreement. Lilleness is famous in Seattle for building various successful businesses that build consumer products and software products. Other businesses he has helped grow are in the digital media and mobile sector. He was the CEO of Medio Systems, a predictive and analytics startup, which after a decade of growth was acquired by Here Technologies.

Richmond Capital Partners is an investment firm that he set up with the interest to focus on IoT companies. Lilleness was also President and Chief Operational Officer of Universal Electronics where he helped the company triple its earnings. He seems to breathe life into companies that are too small or have not been growing to their full potential. Maybe that is why he is interested in Insteon, which is a company that has existed for some time but still does not get a lot of attention in the home automation industry.

In an interview with CE Pro, Lilleness says the acquisition is a “blockbuster” opportunity. He says that the two most interesting IoT spaces in technology today are the car and the home. Lilleness adds that in the next five years electrical nodes in the home will be smart and will be able to communicate to the internet. This is why he is very interested in Insteon protocol.

Insteon in the industry

Insteon products may not be as recognizable as the Amazon Echo or Google Home. However, their Insteon protocol is one of the best in the industry. Its patented dual mesh technology can communicate both wirelessly and through your home’s electrical wiring. In an industry where developers are churning out only wireless products for the smart home, they may face a big challenge creating protocols that can handle a large number of powerful smart devices in the home a decade from now.

Lilleness believes that Insteon’s PLC (powerline carrier) technology has the ability to scale for electrical control and communication without degrading service for users of smart home devices. Wireless protocols reduce clutter but they also have the problem that many phone owners face: network or signal strength. If you are using Wi-Fi as the communication protocol for smart devices in your home, the strength of the Wi-Fi signal determines how fast those devices will respond to triggers, voice commands, and so on. It is a problem that devices that communicate through your home’s wiring hardly face.

No wonder investment firms, like that of Lilleness, are looking for ways to make products that enhance communication between devices in your home. There are no plans to move the Smartlabs headquarters from Irvine, but Lilleness does have plans to create a software team in Seattle. Smartlabs expects the global smart control market to grow to $10.1 billion in the next five years. For more information about home automation visit our website today.


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