MOORESVILLE, N.C. — In an effort to respond to the growing interest in home automation solutions, home improvement retailer Lowe’s releases Iris, a cloud-based smart home platform.
Iris, a do-it-yourself product, allows homeowners to monitor and control their homes via Web-enabled devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Lowe’s collaborated with UK-based smart home technology provider AlertMe to develop the Iris platform and home hub.
“We believe the timing is right,” Kevin Meagher, vice president of smart home, Lowe’s, tells SSI. “We have the perfect storm. Cloud computing, broadband and smartphones are ubiquitous; connected devices are becoming simple and affordable; and customers are looking for greater connectivity and control of their homes.”
Another factor that prompted Lowe’s to launch the new service is to reach the mass consumer because existing security and home automation carry an expensive price tag and offer limited value to the end user, according to Meagher. The company will offer three starter kits ranging from $179 to $299, including:
- Iris Safe & Secure — The kit includes an Iris Hub, motion sensors, a keypad and door, window and cabinet sensors.
- Iris Comfort & Control — In addition to the Iris Hub, the kit includes a thermostat to simplify programming using an intuitive user interface and remote control of home settings through the Iris mobile app. The kit also includes a smart plug that can remotely control devices in the home and report back on the specific device’s current and historical energy usage.
- Iris Smart Kit — The kit combines the features of Comfort & Control and Safe & Secure in a single kit. It includes an Iris Hub, motion sensor, smart plug, a keypad, range extender, smart thermostat and two window, door and cabinet sensors.
The company will also provide a basic level of monitoring services, which includes text alerts when alarms are triggered and access to remote video streaming, at no charge to the homeowner. For $9.99 per month, consumers can upgrade to the premium self-monitoring service, called Magic, which allows users to set rules to link devices together in the home. Additionally, the service provides an extended messaging service that allows customers to define alerts and identify contact lists for messaging should an incident occur if a homeowner is out of town.
“This does a lot more than a traditional security system with the exception that we do not currently offer a link to emergency response services,” Meagher says. “We believe that the high volume of false alarms, the frustrations of homeowners and police departments that respond to them and the changing consumer attitudes to home security make response services less important to the average homeowner.”
Lowe’s executives realize the challenges the company must overcome to enter the home security space, Meagher remarks. However, the goal is not to steal customers away from electronic security companies.
“The existing market is well defined and there will always be customers that want a professional solution with an installer and police response,” he says. “We want to attract customers who do not feel that $30 to $40 per month for security alone is a good value. We are focused on DIY solutions, and we expect this to be a differentiator in the market.”
Meagher says there could be opportunities for security professionals to collaborate with Lowe’s in the future. He notes that as the smart home market matures, Lowe’s will likely sell more connected devices, which could potentially prompt integrators to offer the Lowe’s solution to their customers.
“We have wider range of devices that can easily scale over time,” Meagher explains. “Lowe’s is comfortable with the idea that our products could be bought by consumers and connected to competing services — we do not see our platform as exclusive. Clearly, this will take time because we all need to agree to standards, but it’s in the interest of all the players to cooperate.”
The offering, which is currently available on Lowes.com, will be offered at 500 stores nationwide by the end of August.