AT&T announced its new Digital Life platform yesterday, but don’t expect it to be anything like the home automation services offered by Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Rogers and others.
In an interview with CE Pro, Kevin Peterson, senior vice president, Digital Life for AT&T Mobility, reiterated what yesterday’s press release indicated – that Digital Life is a wholesale offering for International service providers, not a branded home-control and remote management system sold to consumers.
We caught up with Peterson just as he was leaving for Barcelona, home of the Mobile World Congress 2012, where AT&T is co-sponsoring the GSMA Connected House. He wanted to reserve the details of Digital Life for that event, but we did eke out a few tidbits from the interview.
First, Digital Life builds upon technology from Xanboo, which AT&T acquired in 2010. Founded in 1999, Xanboo was one of the original cloud-based (SaaS) home automation solutions. AT&T had offered a Xanboo-powered service to its customers in 2006, but that program was short-lived. It featured a basic kit for monitoring cameras and security sensors for $9.95/month.
AT&T Digital Life Products
Seen in promo video: Z-Wave thermostat, Z-wave sensor/siren, Kaba door lock, Cisco IP camera
Unlike that retail-oriented business model, AT&T is launching its home automation service as a platform offered to “international service providers.”
When asked if that meant utilities, cable companies and the like, Peterson would only say AT&T is “opportunistic” and looking at “an array of segments.”
Neither would he say where the AT&T software would be hosted – on AT&T’s own servers or that of its customers’.
“We’re open,” he says, pointing to the open architecture and flexibility of AT&T’s platform.
AT&T is offering a software developer’s kit (SDK) built on Xanboo technology; services providers can build their own interfaces and applications.
It sounds a lot like Motorola Mobility’s 4Home, currently implemented by Verizon, but Peterson would not comment on any similarities or differences between the two.
Peterson also would say nothing about hardware or partners are really anything about Digital Life, preferring to save the details for Barcelona.
Suffice it to say, we’ll see the standard fare of products and applications offered by other home-automation systems: energy management, lighting control, home security, remote monitoring, etc.
Z-Wave and Other Digital Life Products
A look at an AT&T Digital Life promotional video does give away a few product secrets. Namely, the initial implementation will probably incorporate Z-Wave wireless technology – a favorite of Xanboo’s.
Unlike Verizon, the cable providers are integrating monitored home security into their automation systems, and charging a premium for the service ($34 to $50+).
Based on its promo video (below), AT&T’s solution appears to be more like Verizon’s, i.e., it does not seem to revolve around a monitored home security system. That was the original model of Xanboo, although Xanboo later went on to integrate with professionally monitored security systems from DSC, DMP and Honeywell.
We suspect AT&T will roll out a retail offering for U.S. consumers, integrating it with the company's U-verse bundles, just as Verizon is doing with FiOS.
Who’s Going to Barcelona?
More details should be available during the Mobile World Congress (MWC 2012). Who’s going? Please take pictures and videos for us to share.