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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43


    image


     


    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.

  • Reply 2 of 43
    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".
  • Reply 3 of 43
    irelandireland Posts: 17,798member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 43

    Quote:

    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.

  • Reply 5 of 43

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


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    This cracks me up every time.

  • Reply 6 of 43


    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."

  • Reply 7 of 43

    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.  :-/

  • Reply 8 of 43
    irelandireland Posts: 17,798member
    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.
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 43

    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.

  • Reply 10 of 43
    irelandireland Posts: 17,798member
    Agreed. I'd love to buy my bulbs with an Apple logo on them :D
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 43

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post



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


     


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

  • Reply 12 of 43
    How awesome must it be to have a company with Apple, Google and Microsoft fighting over buying it. Somebody is loving life.
  • Reply 13 of 43


    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 ...

  • Reply 14 of 43
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,339member

    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. 

  • Reply 15 of 43
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,560member

    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.

  • Reply 16 of 43
    paul94544paul94544 Posts: 1,027member


    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.

  • Reply 17 of 43
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    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.  

  • Reply 18 of 43
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post



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


     


    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).  

  • Reply 19 of 43
    v5vv5v Posts: 1,357member

    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.

  • Reply 20 of 43


    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.

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