Comcast brings internet or cable TV services to 29 million customers, and now it wants to offer many of them home automation services, too. The media company knows that the internet of things, or making everyday objects smart and connected, is on a growth path. By adding these services, Comcast can become a more essential hub of the home and stave off threats from Internet video rivals.
Comcast will provide additional home automation services for IoT controls at no extra cost through its Xfinity XFi Internet gateways, which reach 15 million of its customers. Those services include controls for home security cameras or using a TV remote to find your lost smartphone. Market researcher Gartner estimates that 8.4 billion connected devices were in use in 2017 around theworld, with that number expected to grow to 20.4 billion by 2020.
Comcast’s IoT partners includeAugust, Carrier, Chamberlain, Ecobee, GE, Honeywell, Kwikset, Liftmaster, LIFX, Lutron, Nest, Netgear Arlo, Philips Hue, Danalock, Sengled, SkyBell, Tile, Yale, and Zen Ecosystems. About a million of Comcast’s customers already use home automation service, but now the integration of services and the variety offered are going to expand dramatically. All told, more than 50 services will be available eventually.
Part of the tech is made possible through Comcast’s acquisition of Stringify back in September. Stringify has a cloud-powered automation service for more than 500 IoT products and digital services, and its tech will be integrated into Xfinity products and services to accelerate the smart home experiences.
Comcast senior vice president Eric Schaefer said in an interview with VentureBeat that the Xfinity X1 set-top box and its accompanying voice-activated remote makes it possible to control various appliances and lights in your home.
“We are extending the scope and the quantity of what we’re offering,” Schaefer said. “And it’s for no additional charge.”
A customer can say, “Xfinity, good night” into the X1 voice remote. That can trigger preprogrammed actions, like turning off the lights in the bedroom and throughout the home, shutting the TV and X1 cable box off, arming the home security system, pausing the Wi-Fi on the kids’ devices until 6 a.m., lowering the home temperature a few degrees, setting the motion detectors, ensuring the smart doors are locked, and turning on security cameras.
When you arrive home, you can say, “Xfinity, I’m home.” Then the XFi or Xfinity Home app on a smartphone can trigger such actions as turning on lights, opening the garage door, adjusting the thermostat, and turning on music throughout the home from a streaming music service, Schaefer said.
These services will be available to X1 customers in the first half of 2018. The X1 set-top boxes give you TV channels and internet connectivity with advanced search, personalized recommendations, apps at home and on the go, and in-home Wi-Fi for all rooms.
“If you’re a gamer, you might hear your doorbell ring,” Schaefer said. “You can grab the remote and say, ‘open my front door’, so you don’t have to move away from the TV. Home automation today is much harder than it should be, and it may only get worse for customers with so many devices.”
The XFi service debuted in May to give customers a simple digital dashboard to set up their home Wi-Fi network, find their password, see what devices are connected, troubleshoot issues, set parental controls, and pause Wi-Fi access on their home network during dinner or at bedtime. It is available to 15 million Xfinity Internet customers with a compatible device — the XFi Gateway or the XFi Advanced Gateway. Some of that capability came from Comcast’s Skydog acquisition a few years ago.
The XFi service can be controlled via a mobile app, website, and TV with the X1 voice remote.
Xfinity Home is the home security and automation service from Comcast. The service includes monitoring, battery and cellular backup, remote arming and disarming, real-time text and email alerts, video recording, live video monitoring, lighting and thermostat control, and smoke and water leak detection.
Comcast recently added enhanced features to Xfinity Home security cameras to help consumers monitor their front doors. The AI-powered platform identifies movement, centers on the subject, and delivers a thumbnail image to customers so they can always know what’s happening with just a glance at the app.
Xfinity Mobile has a feature dubbed Phone Finder, which lets customers search for and locate their mobile phone in their home using the X1 voice remote. There’s no setup required — customers just say “Xfinity Mobile, find my phone” into their X1 voice remote, and the phone rings.