Lowe's Launching Smart Home Technology

January 5, 2012

Home improvement retailer Lowe's is entering the emerging smart home market, with the launch of Iris set for the middle of this year.  Therma-Tru Doors is one of its initial partners, with plans to develop and incorporate a monitoring system for homeowners that can be used in conjunction with Benchmark by Therma-Tru entry doors sold at Lowe's.

Said to be an affordable, cloud-based home management system, Iris gives consumers the ability to control and interact with their home from anywhere using a smart phone or computer. The portfolio of connected products will enable customers to remotely monitor and control control thermostats, locks, lighting, and appliances, officials note. The system will also enable homeowners to monitor and protect their homes with video cameras and door, motion, and fire sensors. The retailer also emphasizes that Iris will be a system that will offer simple, scalable solutions at price points attractive to the mass market.

“Because of Lowe’s partnerships with manufacturers, utilities and service providers, Lowe’s has the ability to offer a simple, intuitive home management solution at a great value,” says Greg Bridgeford, Lowe’s executive vice president of business development. “Lowe’s, through Iris, is working to connect the broadest range of products in the industry and deliver the benefits of a smart home solution that were previously only available to the most affluent consumers.”

“This new application, available exclusively at Lowe’s stores on Benchmark by Therma-Tru products, will allow homeowners to become more attuned to what’s happening in their homes," says Tina Mealer, Therma-Tru senior product manager of retail. The system will make it possible for homeowners to be notified on their smart phone or computer whenever a monitored home entry door has been opened.

“Imagine the peace-of-mind a working mother will have when she gets notified each day that her home’s door has been opened at the anticipated time as her children return home from school,” Mealer notes. “Or, think of the instant ability a homeowner will have to personally contact the police or neighbors if the door monitoring system alerts them of activity when they’re traveling away from home."

AlertMe's home monitoring system 

“This is an exciting development in the connected home space,” says Stuart Sikes, president of Parks Associates, a firm involved in emerging consumer technology products and services. “While there have been various simple applications such as remote management of HVAC systems that have delivered significant savings, until now, there have been few comprehensive offerings aimed at the mass market. Lowe’s new Iris product and service platform has the attributes needed to break down these barriers and reach the consumer with a scalable solution at an affordable price, and it should position the company as a formidable leader in this space.”

The Lowe's Iris system is based on a multi-protocol smart home platform developed by AlertMe, an English technology company providing home energy management and connected home services that was founded in 2006. "The smart home will be the next major consumer technology innovation space. Consumers are used to living their lives on the go, online and increasingly on their smart phones," says Mary Turner, AlertMe CEO. "They have been connected to all aspects of their lives including their work, friends and even their bank through the cloud for some time - now they can be connected to their homes, in the same easy to use, friendly and innovative, always-on way."

The market for home management systems to date has been restrained by prohibitively high costs and lack of standards-based "no new wires" technologies like the AlertMe platform, company officials note. "The entrance of a giant retail brand like Lowe's means we are poised to bring the Smart Home into the mainstream and not just for the more affluent," Turner predicts.