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Apple, Google & Microsoft in talks to acquire home automation company

post #1 of 42
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Apple is said to be considering the purchase of a home automation company called R2 Studios, but both Google and Microsoft are also said to be potential buyers.

All three companies were named in a story published by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday in connection with startup id8 Group R2 Studios Inc. The company was created in 2011 by entrepreneur Blake Krikorian, who founded Sling Media Inc., maker of the Slingbox TV streaming device.

R2 Studios is developing home automation technology, but as of yet does not have any products on the market aside from an Android application that can control heating and lighting systems.

To date, Apple has not directly entered the home automation market, but the company has arranged deals to sell home accessories compatible with iOS devices in its retail stores. Most recently, Apple reached an exclusive agreement to sell Philips hue, an app-controlled LED bulb.

Patent


Apple's stores also carry the Nest Learning Thermostat, a device that intelligently reduces users' power bills and connects to iOS devices with an accompanying application available on the App Store. The Nest was also designed by Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive credited with the creation of the original iPod click-wheel interface.

Apple has also filed patent applications that hint the company is interest in home automation functionality. One filing discovered this year by AppleInsider showed how multiple devices, including Apple hardware as well as third-party devices like cable boxes, PlayStation gaming controllers and home sprinkler systems, could be connected and controlled through near-field communication technology.

Google has been more public about its interest in home automation, announcing at its annual I/O conference in 2011 that it would release an LED light bulb that can be controlled by Android devices. The company's secretive 'X' labs are said to be home to concepts for connected devices including everything from garden planters to coffee pots.
post #2 of 42

1000

 

Gates' vision was a screen in a wall in literally every room. Except the bathroom. Ballmer's psychotic, so he'll want screens on every ceiling in literally every room. 

 

Google just wants cameras in your home.

post #3 of 42
About time something happened in this area for Apple. Home automation with fewer home owners, though? Maybe they should rebrand it as "living space automation".

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post #4 of 42
Give me affordable Wifi enabled light bulbs and I'll be happy.

Also, make it so each bulb can be set up wirelessly using the bulbs and an app - and nothing else - requiring no master bulbs or proprietary base stations. Just simply a bulb that you fit (which gives it power) and when you open the app it finds the bulb through an ad-hoc connection, whereby you can tell the bulb your Wifi password - in one step. That's how it should work. You shouldn't need to worry or even think about which bulb is the master bulb, and you shouldn't need a disgustingly archaic item like the Philips Hue base station.
Edited by Ireland - 12/20/12 at 1:01pm
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #5 of 42
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Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Give me affordable Wifi enabled light bulbs and I'll be happy.
Also, make it so each bulb can be set up wirelessly using the bulbs and an app, require no master bulbs or proprietary base stations.

 

I'm still waiting for an intelligent lighting system that will turn on and off as one moves through the house and it should be smart enough to distinguish between people and pets to avoid unintentional lighting.

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post #6 of 42
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Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

1000

 

 

This cracks me up every time.

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post #7 of 42

Ready for the iFlush.  I have a few old Android phones around ;-)

 

Aside from the poor joke, I was just commenting on this yesterday.  I can see this being a market in need of "disrupting."  Microsoft would be like "Did you know your toilet will support WIndows RT, but no apps?"  and Google would be like "I noticed you just went to the restroom. Please see this ad about Charmin tissue."

post #8 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

 

I'm still waiting for an intelligent lighting system that will turn on and off as one moves through the house and it should be smart enough to distinguish between people and pets to avoid unintentional lighting.

 

This.  My kids can't seem to figure out what the "off" switch is for.  :-/

post #9 of 42
That would be an awesome option. But a simple bulb system like I described - which Hue or LifX are not - would be a great start. Hue has a base station and LifX has a stupid master bulb system. Both of which are awkward solutions. The idea here is home automation should simplify your life, not complicate it. And people round here who don't acknowledge that both those current solutions are not ideal need to move to a MSFTInsider forum.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I'm still waiting for an intelligent lighting system that will turn on and off as one moves through the house and it should be smart enough to distinguish between people and pets to avoid unintentional lighting.

Edited by Ireland - 12/20/12 at 1:17pm
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #10 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

That would be an awesome option. But a simple bulb system like I described - which Hue or LifX are not - would be a great start. Hue has a base station and LifX has a stupid master bulb system. Both or which are awkward solutions. There idea here is home automation should simplify your life, not complicate it. And people round here who don't acknowledge that both those current solutions are not ideal need to move to a MSFTInsider forum.

 

I agree and hopefully Apple will play a key role in improving these needlessly complex systems. There are so many areas they have open to them to sweep in and dominate.

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post #11 of 42
Agreed. I'd love to buy my bulbs with an Apple logo on them 1biggrin.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I agree and hopefully Apple will play a key role in improving these needlessly complex systems. There are so many areas they have open to them to sweep in and dominate.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #12 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Agreed. I'd love to buy my bulbs with an Apple logo on them 1biggrin.gif

 

Apple light bulbs? Awesome. Surely they'd be LEDs or light panels of some kind.

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post #13 of 42
How awesome must it be to have a company with Apple, Google and Microsoft fighting over buying it. Somebody is loving life.
post #14 of 42

When I read the headline the first time, I thought they were going in together to purchase this company. I knew it must truly be the end of the world, as predicted.

 

Now I'm disappointed ...

post #15 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheUnfetteredMind View Post

When I read the headline the first time, I thought they were going in together to purchase this company. I knew it must truly be the end of the world, as predicted.

 

Now I'm disappointed ...

Based on the original headline I too thought I was going to read all about a new MS and Google partnership. 

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post #16 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

About time something happened in this area for Apple. Home automation with fewer home owners, though? Maybe they should rebrand it as "living space automation".

There have been devices that can be wired into a wall switchbox for this. They've been around for many years, decades even. I used to have them in our bathrooms when my daughter was small. Enter the room, and the lights connectd to the box come on. Leave the room, and they go off. Sensitivity, and (often) angle of view can be adjusted so that small animals won't trigger the light. A child crawling on the floor wont trigger it either in that case. The amount of time before the light turns off when activity in the rooms stops can usually be adjusted as well.

post #17 of 42

I'm going to quote that old lightbulb joke

 

How many MS engineers...

 

None they will decree darlness as the new standard, oh jeez

imagine if MS got the company every  few hours a new update would be downloaded and messin turning off our lights

on second thought I woulds love to be able to turn the lights and devices off in my neigbors house when they piss me off. esp when they are partying.

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post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

 

I'm still waiting for an intelligent lighting system that will turn on and off as one moves through the house and it should be smart enough to distinguish between people and pets to avoid unintentional lighting.

 

Exactly.  I've been waiting for this since I first read about home automation in 1975.  It astounds me that this is still considered a sort of "futuristic concept" today and isn't available.  

post #19 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Agreed. I'd love to buy my bulbs with an Apple logo on them 1biggrin.gif

 

I'd settle for a light bulb that simply worked and didn't cost an arm and a leg.  Apparently they stopped making these in the mid-80's and there is no interest from the manufacturing companies in bringing them back.  The average light bulb lasts less than a year nowadays and they cost 10 times what they did in the 60's and 70's (over a 100 times when you adjust for inflation).  

post #20 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

[...] And people round here who don't acknowledge that both those current solutions are not ideal need to move to a MSFTInsider forum.

 

Oh, okay, so if I don't share your view of how home automation "should" work, I should just leave, huh? Yeah.

 

To me the whole thing seems like a solution in search of a problem. I don't have any trouble hitting a switch on the way into a room, then hitting it again on the way out. Maybe there's a benefit to people with no arms.

post #21 of 42
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post
Exactly.  I've been waiting for this since I first read about home automation in 1975.  It astounds me that this is still considered a sort of "futuristic concept" today and isn't available.  


Ditto. The "push-button magic" of the '50s hasn't come true in 60 years, and now it never will. It'll be touchscreen magic.

post #22 of 42

well, with the introduction and apparent(?) success of Nest, home automation is the next thing (after TVs).  The problem with home automation is a great solution is set it and forget it (the bulbs just work;-), and that is not a growth market for Apple or anyone else.  The 'money' is in the Google model, where they can start marketing high consumptive homes (or low consumptive homes) to marketeers.... the data is the product

 

I'm using Insteon now, and Crestron wasn't in my top 2.   My problem is that consumer grade home automation is cheap, yet expensive (my power is pretty dirty and the spikes and the browns are eating up the signal processors that monitor the electrical wiring for the network controls.).

 

I think Wireless is a good idea, but I also think that it should be on a private network (old school... HVAC controls over ethernet was a double problem for me in the 90s, first it wasn't secure, and 2nd it was layer2, often caused bridging storms (chernobyl packets), and sucked when trying to build out a Layer3 segmented network (VLANning them for security just caused the storms to take down the most overloaded router on the net, and/or spanning tree oscillation problems).

post #23 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Apple light bulbs? Awesome.

 

Yeah, awesome. They wouldn't fit existing light sockets though, because Jony would <*ahem*> "revolutionize" the world of lighting with slimmer, lighter bulbs. You'll be able to control them via AirLight, but only the two most recent generations of hardware will support it. Anyone can get a license to produce them, but after almost two years only a small handful of suppliers will have come on board and their bulbs will cost at least half-again as much as the universal alternatives that benefit from economies of scale.

 

But boy howdy they will be kewl.

post #24 of 42
I really hope we see Apple get into more home-based electronics.

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post #25 of 42

One cool example of home control is the CRISTAL project, where you control things in your room by manipulating the overhead images of those things, projected onto a table.

 

Use a touch table instead of the projector, and it could be fun to play with:

 

post #26 of 42
Everything with AirPlay! I want my toilet seat to play my favorite #2 mix!

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post #27 of 42

I foolishly paid 400 bucks for an Indigo Pro Kit about 4 years ago. Bloody nightmare to set-up and never worked properly (old house, old circuits). Go for it Tim.

post #28 of 42
You'd have to be an imbecile to let MS control your home systems, and certifiably nuts to allow Google to do so.
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post #29 of 42
I see it neat home automation of controlling anything electronic by IOS, that includes TV, fridge, air conditioners, lights, other electronics.
post #30 of 42

Anyone want to buy a Segway?

 

"Home Automation" has been going on for 25 years or more, but much of it has not developed beyond "X10".   Different companies with different product lines and usually different protocols.  There has been some progress over the years on integration, but you can't go down to Best Buy or Lowe's and get home automation system that you can take home and plug in and interconnect with all your lights, environmental systems, security and home appliances.  And the systems need to be able to run standalone without being connected to a computer or "the cloud" of some vendor who gives away "home automation systems" to lock you into a long term service contracts like cable & phone companies, yet still be accessible and controllable from your phone, tablet or computer.

 

Home automation needs a standard like Bluetooth to take off.  A common method for devices to find each other, connect and share information,  But even then, retrofitting that back into home power systems which may be decades old is problematic.  There have been attempts to define home automation standards, but it will take big players like Apple, Google, and Microsoft to make it happen.

 

Or maybe Samsung.  Since they make appliances, TV's, and everything else in the world.   

post #31 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carthusia View Post

You'd have to be an imbecile to let MS control your home systems, and certifiably nuts to allow Google to do so.

Bingo! Well said! I'm in the market for a new car. I won't even consider a Ford b/c of its MS association. Shame, the Focus looks on the outside! 1smile.gif
post #32 of 42

There are many opportunities for automation systems. Residential building access systems are just now discovering color monitors. The Nest people should research security systems.

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post #33 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

About time something happened in this area for Apple. Home automation with fewer home owners, though? Maybe they should rebrand it as "living space automation".

A home doesn't always mean a house. Focusing on add-ons that don't require rework would probably help, such as some of these systems just plugging in or threading in standard sockets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

I'd settle for a light bulb that simply worked and didn't cost an arm and a leg.  Apparently they stopped making these in the mid-80's and there is no interest from the manufacturing companies in bringing them back.  The average light bulb lasts less than a year nowadays and they cost 10 times what they did in the 60's and 70's (over a 100 times when you adjust for inflation).

I can't say I've had that problem. I've been marking bulbs by installation date for a few years now and they tend to easily beat the rated number of hours of operation.

I certainly don't care about an ability to dynamically change the lighting color. I don't know about a light that uses an app to control it. That's fine for stage shows, but home lighting is considerably less demanding. I do like the idea of lights "following" the user, but I haven't seen that, so I'll sit out the electronic light market for now.
Edited by JeffDM - 12/20/12 at 9:09pm
post #34 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carthusia View Post

You'd have to be an imbecile to let MS control your home systems, and certifiably nuts to allow Google to do so.

"Two days after I installed Google@Home, my toilet habits started showing up in web searches..."
post #35 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I certainly don't care about an ability to dynamically change the lighting color

 

You might if you use LED lighting. You may not want to change it on an ongoing basis, but you may want to shift it away from the default when you first set it up.

 

LED lighting is much "whiter" in appearance than incandescent lighting. Many people find it not only unflattering, but uncomfortable, It's definitely an adjustment.

 

I only know a couple early adopters who've made significant forays into LED lighting, but both have made changes to make their lighting more yellow. One of them uses traditional light bulbs with LED elements. He now uses the amber-tinted Philips bulbs. The other is a lighting designer using non-traditional light sources. He went with the adjustable controller.

post #36 of 42
The sorts of things you can do in home automation are so obvious, and so done to death in fiction, there's really no point buying a company, just do it yourself.
post #37 of 42
Originally Posted by v5v View Post
LED lighting is much "whiter" in appearance than incandescent lighting. Many people find it not only unflattering, but uncomfortable, It's definitely an adjustment.

 

They can be both. There's no difference if you don't want one. Just buy the right bulbs.

 

But you bring up a valid point: the only professional use I can see for "color-changing" bulbs is to swing between 52k and 26k. 


Originally Posted by ascii View Post
The sorts of things you can do in home automation are so obvious, and so done to death in fiction, there's really no point buying a company, just do it yourself.
 

So you have no imagination, then.

 

And why would anyone bother doing what has already been done in fiction when their patents will simply be invalidated?

post #38 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I really hope we see Apple get into more home-based electronics.

As opposed to?

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post #39 of 42
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Originally Posted by chadmatic View Post

As opposed to?

As opposed to what they have now.

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post #40 of 42
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Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

And why would anyone bother doing what has already been done in fiction when their patents will simply be invalidated?

...for the money?1wink.gif

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