Feeds

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

The killer app for home automation?

Security for virtualized datacentres

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. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar
Movie special effects project spawns academic papers on gravitational lensing
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
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.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.