Ronnie05's Blog

Its time for the Smart Connected Home – Presenting Staples Connect

Posted in Smart Home by Manas Ganguly on October 1, 2013

Staples

Staples connect would possibly the inflection point for smart homes out of concepts and scattered executions to possibly the first integrated solution for making the smarthome. Staples is the 2nd largest online retailer after Amazon with 1550 outlets in US and $5.3bln sales in last quarter. Staples has tied up with Zonoff to provide a smart home platform ready for a commercial launch. Staples Connect is the second major home automation push from a major U.S. retailer in the past year, following the rollout of a simplified home monitoring service from Lowe’s called Iris in July 2012.

staplesconnectapp-100055536-medium

At the heart of all this a Linksys Smartphone hub which hosts the Zonoff Smarthome platform. Staples has gone ahead and sealed alliances with Honeywell(Smart Thermostats), Phillips (SmartBulbs), Ecolink, Doorbot (Smart Doorbell), Ivee (Voice Assistant), GE, Aeotec, Olutron, First Alert to provide wireless access to these devices through the Zonoff platform.

Staples will split its Staples Connect platform into three main product groups — “lighting,” “environmental control,” and “security and monitoring” — each of which will offer customers a different so-called “entry point” into the smart home ecosystem. Staples Connect starts with the Universal Hub, a $99 Linksys box that sits in the home and connects to all the smart devices in the house through a home network either via Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Home devices are then controlled via the Hub, which you communicate with remotely via the Staples Connect mobile app for Android and iOS.

Staples Connect From the Staples website

Staples Connect
From the Staples website

While solutions in terms of automating/ remote controlling devices has been available for long – it hasnt just cut the ice. The problem is that because each device has its own app, and sometimes even its own wireless hub, each new smart device also introduces more control complexity for the consumer. The promise of a platform from Zonoff and a product like Staples Connect is that it eliminates that complexity by funneling those devices through a single, broadly compatible wireless hub and into a centralizing mobile control app. Instead of the user installing multiple hubs and adjusting device settings among four or five different apps, Staples Connect will consolidate everything into one app, and one hardware hub.

People will only start caring about this when we start giving them scenarios in which the technology is going to make their lives easier. We have to move it away from a novelty and closer to utility.At the same time,fueling consumers’ smart device addiction is only useful to Staples if it can ensure that its connected lights, locks, and outlets talk to each other — and that’s exactly what its partnership with Zonoff allows it to do.

If Staples is successful, other retailers with a bigger hand in home appliances such as Best Buy, Home Depot, or Sears could follow suit with competing platforms. That’s a big “if,”however, as technology and home appliance companies have spent years touting the wonders of home automation to no avail. Despite the attraction of Nest thermostats and blinds that can slide open when you’re 10 miles from home, consumers have generally stuck with traditional home devices and appliances, excluding the odd programmable coffee maker or air conditioner timer.
That reluctance to wire up the home could finally change in the coming years as connected home equipment becomes more commonplace and solutions such as Staples Connect become more prevalent.

The complexity of the use cases is only going to grow, and the interoperability between brands is really what’s going to build this out over time. The eco-system has its own benefits in terms of innovation. If the platform is mature enough to underwrite innovation in years to come, the platform will be huge. At a time when the Internet of Things looks more like a while bunch of Intranets of Things, Staples Connect is exactly the sort of push the smart home industry needs right now.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, smart home appliances were all the rage and CES 2014 may offer more of the same—Zonoff plans to show off its connected home vision during the show. Who knows? If a home automation craze actually takes off, Google may even dust off its old Android@Home program and turn it into an actual product.ISPs such as Verizon and Comcast also offer home automation products. This could be the tipping point for Smart Home.

What’s key is just knowing what’s even possible” – Michael Harris, CEO Zonoff – hit the nail bang on.

References:
Staples Connect Bridges all your “Internet of things” into one managing App
Staples Connect Makes Having a “Connected” Home or Small Business Easy
Move over Best Buy: Staples wants to be your shop for the connected home

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