For those of us who read and write about home technology on the regular, home automation is kinda of taken for granted. Even if you don’t own an automated home yourself, chances are good that you’re at least familiar with most of the possibilities. But for many people out there (he says whilst pointing, you know, out there), the connected home still seems like something straight out of science fiction. Which is why a new announcement that hit the wires this morning excites me probably more than it should. Zonoff — a company that specializes in creating automation and home control software platforms — has announced a new partnership with Staples to bring affordable DIY home control to the masses.
Yeah, no, you read that correctly: Staples. The company that specializes in back-to-school sales and office supplies.
The new Staples Connect platform will be launching online and in select Staples locations this November, and will consist of an app-controlled Hub (built by Linksys) designed to communicate with all manner of lighting and home control products, with partners like Lutron, Philips (I’m assuming Hue), GE, Honeywell, Yale, and even ivee in the mix. That’s right, it seems that you’ll be able to use the new ivee as a voice control input for the Staples Connect system.
How much, you ask? Not bad, I say. The Hub will sell for $99, and the app is free.
Now, mind you, those of us who are into the whole home automation thing already are almost certainly looking at the list of supported products and recoiling at the lack of entertainment control. Staples Connect cannot fire up your home theater at the touch of a button. The release says nothing about distributed AV or any of the other myriad things that often draw people into the world of simplified, touch-of-a-button control. But for Joe and Jane Six-Pack, who probably don’t even have a home theater system, this could be a neat intro into the world of home control, assuming it works as easily as the companies involved promise it does.
Why Staples, you ask? The press release has this to say:
“As a leading retailer both online and offline, Staples is in an ideal position to drive mass market adoption, to both homeowners and small businesses,” explained Mike Harris, chief executive officer of Zonoff, Inc. “We are pleased that Staples chose Zonoff as the system to bring together a world-class lineup of partners under the Staples Connect banner.”
Staples Connect is easy to set-up for consumers, but installation will also be available through Staples EasyTech Services. Customers can either select a starter kit or choose specific products and services to start with, and add new devices as they go.
If you want to try the system out for yourself, it will debut at the GigaOM Mobilize event in San Francisco on October 16 and 17, with interactive Stables Connect retail kiosks hitting select retail locations shortly thereafter.