Comcast has expanded its home automation lineup by adding support for devices from some of the hottest connected home companies in the industry. The nation's largest cable provider (cmcsa) will add support for August smart locks, the Nest thermostat, Lutron lights, and the Rachio sprinkler, among others, to its Xfinity Home product starting today, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said this morning at the Cable Show in Chicago.
Products from nine companies, which are listed below, will now work with Comcast's home automation platform, which currently has 500,000 subscribers. Comcast technicians will install the "smart" devices and deliver a tablet to control them. The offering is tiered: On the low end is a more do-it-yourself approach to home automation; on the high end is a full-service offering that includes home security.
For Comcast, Xfinity Home is a way to offer a premium service on top of the broadband pipe into people's homes that it already owns. It's also a way to offset the loss of pay-TV revenue as people cut the cord. Many "smart" devices hooked into the Xfinity Home system are home fixtures, making the prospect of cord-cutting difficult for those who don't want to give them up.
The list of Xfinity Home partners includes the following companies and devices:
- August: A connected door lock designed by Yves Béhar.
- Automatic: A device that connects to the diagnostics port on your car and reports where you are and certain aspects of how you drive.
- Cuff: Stylish, connected jewelry that delivers notifications and fitness tracking.
- Lutron: Connected lighting and automated shade controls.
- Leeo: A connected night light that doubles as a way to retrofit your old smoke alarms. (It listens for them to go off and when they do, notifies you through a notification on your phone.)
- Rachio: A Wi-Fi connected sprinkler system that you control from your phone.
- Skybell: A connected doorbell that lets you see who is at your door using your phone.
- Whistle: An activity and GPS location-tracker for dogs.
The additions are important for Comcast because it gives its home automation efforts credibility (and a touch of modernity). Until now, Comcast's offering seemed stuck in the 1990s while homeowners who were excited at the prospect of Internet-connecting their homes were trawling Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites in search of novel, new devices. Even Home Depot offers the Rachio sprinkler system, Lutron lighting, and the Nest thermostat.
Until now, Comcast customers that had installed such products couldn't control them using their Xfinity system—a frustrating proposition for those who shelled out $250 for an August lock or $200 for a Skybell doorbell. (These gadgets are considered "gateway" devices to a fully connected home.) The alternative: Be their own IT professional by piecing a home automation system together using services such as If This Then That or a Smart Things hub or wait for a service like Apple's HomeKit or a truly open standard to enable them to pull it all together.
Comcast plans to expand its offering further by making available later this year a software development kit, which allows developers to create officially sanctioned services using the Xfinity system.
August CEO Jason Johnson says he chose to work with Comcast to improve distribution and marketing of his company's product. As the largest broadband provider in the country, Comcast can introduce August locks to a lot of potential buyers.
"No one spends more money on direct mail and advertising," he says, "and having them offer the August was a big win for us."