To capitalize on consumer interest in home security, startup iControl has launched an energy management platform for the mass market that ties smart appliances, thermostats and plugs to motion-activated lights, security cameras and door locks. But can making people feel safe also make them conserve?
At its core, iControl makes software — software that plugs into the security hardware made by companies like General Electric, Honeywell and ADT, and manages data being channeled back via a network of sensors placed around the home. It even works with devices used for medical monitoring. Now it will also manage and display energy consumption data beamed back to a central hub by appliances and the like.
Its strategy is to team up with more big names on both the security and home networking sides of the business. GE, ADT, Cisco Systems and Comcast (all companies looking to get in on the Smart Grid and energy efficiency trends) have invested in the Palo Alto, Calif. company so far, but it is avidly looking to expand its reach.
Security might be providing iControl an entry into the energy arena, where it hopes to branch out with a software offering tailored to utilities that communicates with Zigbee-enabled smart meters (advanced meters equipped with radios capable of wirelessly transmitting energy consumption data). But it might meet with some stiff competition in this area — the home energy efficiency and monitoring space is getting pretty crowded, as noted in yesterday’s article on open-source home area network company People Power.
On one hand, consumers are faced with more choices than ever when picking a service to keep tabs on energy use and electricity bills in real time. OpenPeak, Tendril, Silver Spring’s Greenbox, Control 4, Google PowerMeter, Microsoft Hohm — the list goes on and on. On the other hand, only a limited number of consumers are interested in monitoring their energy use. The mismatch between supply and demand will no doubt result in a rash of consolidation in coming months and doesn’t bode well for late entries like iControl.
That said, if the company can attract enough interest and revenue with its broader security and home management offerings, it could keep its energy management operations on life support long enough to grow and gain some traction.
It is also planning to charge less for its energy management system than most of its competitors, only $50 compared to the $114 for AlertMe’s system and $200 for Control 4’s.
iControl is generously funded, having raised $43.5 million over the last three years from investors including Charles River Ventures, Intel Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and iFund.
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