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Smart technology invades the home

No longer relegated to the realm of science fiction, the automated home is now within the reach of the everyday consumer

Gregg Reese | 9/26/2013, midnight
It might be said that the smart home is just the latest incarnation in a progression that began with the ...
AT&T Home of the Future

It might be said that the smart home is just the latest incarnation in a progression that began with the introduction of electricity into households in the early 1920s, and the rise of home appliances around the same time. The idea of the automated home was also promoted in the World’s Fairs held in Chicago (1934) and New York (1939). However, these notions remained pipe dreams, due to technological limitations and prohibited costs. A few intrepid hobbyists rigged up the first “wired” homes in the 1960s, but actual implementation was relegated primarily to the reach of the affluent.

The spread of the World Wide Web, the Internet upon which it operates, the microprocessor, wireless networking, and other accoutrements associated with the Information Age, have expanded the possibilities of an affordable, easy-to-use home management system to the reach of the mass consumer.

AT&T, which can trace its linage back to the infancy of telecommunications, began its foray into home automation in earnest with its acquisition of “smart home” startup Xanboo in 2010. Launched in 1999, Xanboo is one of the earliest developers of remote home monitoring and control. This was a logical move for AT&T in its position as an Internet Service Provider, as its Vice President of Business Development Betsy Francis notes.

“When we were challenged to identify the next growth opportunity for AT&T, the security and home automation market really stood out as an untapped, highly fragmented market,” she says. “We did our due diligence to determine if we should build or buy,” Francis says about the decision to buy Xanboo. “Our strong existing assets and the acquisition of a platform company made this a natural fit for AT&T.”

A major hurdle for all serious contenders in this expanding market is the issue of compatibility, or making sure these consumer electronics and sophisticated gadgetry can “play well with each other.” Key to this is the ability of apps and programs to integrate various devices within a home with each other and of course, the smart phone, tablet or other mode of control the homeowner utilizes.

The ultimate litmus test for product reliability is consumer satisfaction, and AT&T responded appropriately.

“We spent most of our time on the consumer experience,” Francis recalls. “We needed this to be perfect.”

At this stage of the game, feedback indicates they were successful. “Early indications from customers tell us we are exceeding their expectations during the sales process, the installation and support process, and their experience on the product,” proclaims Francis.

This attention to detail extends to the unauthorized intrusion into networking systems, a common enough contemporary concern that has earned the description of “hacking.”

To address this concern, access to AT&T’s Digital Life is safeguarded through security authentication and user identification.

The proof is in the pudding, and no better testament to the credibility of Digital Life is its patronage by the people responsible for its existence. One of these is Betsy Francis.

“I am a Digital Life user,” she declares. “It has allowed me to stay connected to home while I am traveling, safeguarding my home and what matters to me, and it keeps my life running smoothly.”

Attendees at this year’s West Coast Expo can see for themselves how Digital Life can fit seamlessly into their daily life by visiting AT&T’s exhibit space, along with our other exhibitors at the Los Angeles Convention Center.