Feeds

British Gas bets you'll pay £150 for heating remote control

The killer app for home automation?

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Following a trial run in the homes of 10,000 of its customers, British Gas has now launched its home-automation play: the Remote Heating Control, which will set you back £150. But for kit-provider AlertMe, the RHC could be more Trojan Horse than money-saving tech.

The Remote Heating product connects wirelessly to the thermostat of the house, plugging into the home's existing broadband, which allows the forgetful office worker to switch off the heating from a web browser (potently saving £140 a year, we're told), assuming the worker isn't too forgetful. But for AlertMe, which provides the kit, this is the killer application which will take home automation out of the uber-geek's shed and into the mainstream.

AlertMe's product, which British Gas will be selling for £229 including installation (that £150 figure is only up for grabs when bundled with new central heating), is a Zigbee hub which can communicate with a wide variety of home-automation kit. AlertMe's plan is to up-sell those British Gas customers on automatic door locks, smoke alarms and window sensors – all controlled from the hub and via AlertMe's cloud.

The company is using the same strategy in the USA, having signed a deal with Lowes in January. Lowes (a DIY chain) used to sell a range of home-automation products, but now only sells AlertMe's hub (rebranded "Iris" and with Z-Wave instead of 868MHz) along with motion detectors, light switches and so forth. It also sells pre-defined starter kits covering "Comfort & Control" and "Safe & Secure" to get customers buying in to the home automation concept.

Home automation is nothing new – the closing curtains, dimming lights and an automatic turntable primed with Barry White have been a staple of the comedy geek since the '70s – but despite the availability of kit conforming to X10 and Z-Wave standards, the market has never taken off. One might suggest that this is because home automation isn't something people want, but not according to AlertMe.

The company likes to compare homes to phones, pointing out that no one asked for mobile phone apps and that standards have driven phone handsets into applications never imagined. AlertMe has some APIs for its cloud, and reckons once people start deploying the kit then creative applications will drive adoption.

Home automation certainly needs a killer application - something which will make people stump up the cash for the kit - and British Gas seems convinced that remote-control heating will be enough to sell it. If that's true then one can imagine other applications being developed, but £229 still seems like a lot of money just to be able to turn down the thermostat from the office. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.