Control & Automation

Insteon, SmartLabs Acquired; New CEO Wants to Make Powerline Great Again for Home Automation

Richmond Capital acquires SmartLabs, owner of Insteon mesh-networking home-automation technology, and Smarthome, leading home-technology retailer; plans serious investment in IoT hardware and software.

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6 Comments
Posted by paul greatreps.com on June 20, 2017

Your headline begs the question: When was PLC great before? X10? X10Pro? CEBus?

Posted by tmaddison on June 20, 2017

“The first order of business for SmartLabs will be to invest in software.”

Hallelujah!

I’ve been a powerline interface user since the 80’s, starting with a little 8 device X10 controller cube that sat next to the couch, moving through the CP290, the CM11, and now the Insteon Hub.

Every time they update the hardware, the software takes a step backward.  The Insteon App is a miserable, lame bit of software that is barely usable.  Certainly not capable of anywhere near the features that prior versions of their own home control software had.

Yes, I know I can step up to software packages and controllers that allow for incredible sophistication, but I have barely five controlled devices in my house, and most of those are fairly simple - like front porch lamps.

Why is it so hard to understand that someone like me might want to be able to tell that lamp “turn on at 5pm if it’s dark, otherwise turn on at sunset minus 10 minutes”? 

I USED to be able to do that, but the Insteon app is barely capable of handling just turning it on at sunset - even that is flaky…  The lamp next to the couch mysteriously turns off at 9:40 at night, even though there’s nothing programmed to tell it that - and there do not appear to be ANY troubleshooting features to let me figure out why…

If Insteon wants to beta test something on a long-time user (and a CE professional, former technician and programmer, so I know a wee bit about these things…) sign me up!

Posted by Adroit1 on June 21, 2017

Another pile of money about to be flushed down the toilet. I was once told by a professor of marketing at a large university about bringing products to market. “your product has to be 50% better, or 50% cheaper than what is existing to have your product be successful”. This is neither. With Z-wave receptacles and switches being introduced by the thousands, and programs being designed and implemented to drive them, you already have the hybrid network Richmond Capital Partners is trying to establish with PLC. On top of not being either better or cheaper, and with its history to overcome, I just don’t see how it is going to be viable. Using the existing wiring is not going to be any different than Z-wave, and Insteon products are going to be proprietary, so there is no ability to expand the system except with Insteon products, making each home prisoner to one company and its pricing. Then there is still PCS out there which is a direct competitor, making profits even harder to come by.

Posted by mhealthtalk on June 21, 2017

As an early user of X10, CP290, HAI, and IBM Home Director, moving to Insteon was a natural, but powerline still posed problems that Androit1 mentioned. One possible direction might be to blend in HomePlug for fast bandwidth, possibly giving it an advantage over Z-wave & ZigBee. BTW, Z-wave is not an industry standard. ZigBee is. But what matters is being the de-facto standard and having market scale.

Posted by yosappy on June 27, 2017

FINALLY!  I have been waiting, for years now, for someone REALLY BIG to REALIZE how GREAT INSTEON Technology has become.  I have tried, with 4 different Integration Companies, to get my INSTEON Devices to talk with my Home Control Systems.  At first, it was Elan.  TOTAL FAILURE.  Their integration was horrible & their Software, even worse.  Of course, they were totally incompatible with INSTEON.  2nd, there was Crestron.  Same problems as Elan, except Software was even worse.  Then I tried Control4.  They were easier to use; but, had all the other Software problems as other 2, + they were also totally incompatible with INSTEON.  Now, I have SAVANT.  My Integrator wrote his own Interface to INSTEON; but, sadly, they only did 2 Devices, so I was still left out in the cold.  SAVANT, like the other 3, also has its own PROPRIETARY Lighting Devices, which are totally incompatible with INSTEON.  So, after 20 YEARS OF FRUSTRATION, I finally Settled with SAVANT Controlling everything, except my INSTEON Devices.  I use Indigo Software & Apple’s HomeKit for Control of all my INSTEON Devices, for now.  There is nothing else out there that is Mac Compatible & contains as much power & flexibility to control INSTEON Devices, as Indigo now does.  In fact, it now controls 2 other Interfaces, Z-Wave & X-10, as well as INSTEON. Hopefully, SOMEONE WILL BUY INDIGO & ADD IT TO THEIR SMARTHOME STRATEGY WITH HomeKit to make all INSTEON Devices COMPATIBLE WITH ALL CONTROL SYSTEMS; or, to, at least, PROVIDE A CLEAN & COMPATIBLE INSTEON INTERFACE TO ALL AUTOMATION CONTROLLERS.  I can DREAM…..........

Posted by mhealthtalk on June 27, 2017

Yosappy, I’m glad you shared your fondness for Insteon and your frustration for the difficulties of building integrated home control systems. It illustrates the sad state of this industry, which remains stuck in two niche markets and unable to cross-the-chasm to mainstream adoption. One niche is high-end new homes with professional system integration installers, but the problem with then is making any kind of meaningful change or enhancement, which usually requires a new truck roll to reprogram the supposedly-smart house. The other niche is the DIY techie that likes to tinker. They can get a few devices up and running just fine, but creating that Smart Home that they envisioned is much more difficult.

Marketers keep over-hyping this industry, and manufacturers and retailers continue to lack knowledge of what is needed for mainstream adoption. This vision has eluded marketers for well over 50 years, and I invite you to watch 3 short videos comparing vision videos by LG & Samsung from CES 2016 with the RCA-Whirlpool demo from the 1957 World’s Fair. (http://www.mhealthtalk.com/elusive-smart-home/)

6 Comments
Posted by mhealthtalk on June 27, 2017

Yosappy, I’m glad you shared your fondness for Insteon and your frustration for the difficulties of building integrated home control systems. It illustrates the sad state of this industry, which remains stuck in two niche markets and unable to cross-the-chasm to mainstream adoption. One niche is high-end new homes with professional system integration installers, but the problem with then is making any kind of meaningful change or enhancement, which usually requires a new truck roll to reprogram the supposedly-smart house. The other niche is the DIY techie that likes to tinker. They can get a few devices up and running just fine, but creating that Smart Home that they envisioned is much more difficult.

Marketers keep over-hyping this industry, and manufacturers and retailers continue to lack knowledge of what is needed for mainstream adoption. This vision has eluded marketers for well over 50 years, and I invite you to watch 3 short videos comparing vision videos by LG & Samsung from CES 2016 with the RCA-Whirlpool demo from the 1957 World’s Fair. (http://www.mhealthtalk.com/elusive-smart-home/)

Posted by yosappy on June 27, 2017

FINALLY!  I have been waiting, for years now, for someone REALLY BIG to REALIZE how GREAT INSTEON Technology has become.  I have tried, with 4 different Integration Companies, to get my INSTEON Devices to talk with my Home Control Systems.  At first, it was Elan.  TOTAL FAILURE.  Their integration was horrible & their Software, even worse.  Of course, they were totally incompatible with INSTEON.  2nd, there was Crestron.  Same problems as Elan, except Software was even worse.  Then I tried Control4.  They were easier to use; but, had all the other Software problems as other 2, + they were also totally incompatible with INSTEON.  Now, I have SAVANT.  My Integrator wrote his own Interface to INSTEON; but, sadly, they only did 2 Devices, so I was still left out in the cold.  SAVANT, like the other 3, also has its own PROPRIETARY Lighting Devices, which are totally incompatible with INSTEON.  So, after 20 YEARS OF FRUSTRATION, I finally Settled with SAVANT Controlling everything, except my INSTEON Devices.  I use Indigo Software & Apple’s HomeKit for Control of all my INSTEON Devices, for now.  There is nothing else out there that is Mac Compatible & contains as much power & flexibility to control INSTEON Devices, as Indigo now does.  In fact, it now controls 2 other Interfaces, Z-Wave & X-10, as well as INSTEON. Hopefully, SOMEONE WILL BUY INDIGO & ADD IT TO THEIR SMARTHOME STRATEGY WITH HomeKit to make all INSTEON Devices COMPATIBLE WITH ALL CONTROL SYSTEMS; or, to, at least, PROVIDE A CLEAN & COMPATIBLE INSTEON INTERFACE TO ALL AUTOMATION CONTROLLERS.  I can DREAM…..........

Posted by mhealthtalk on June 21, 2017

As an early user of X10, CP290, HAI, and IBM Home Director, moving to Insteon was a natural, but powerline still posed problems that Androit1 mentioned. One possible direction might be to blend in HomePlug for fast bandwidth, possibly giving it an advantage over Z-wave & ZigBee. BTW, Z-wave is not an industry standard. ZigBee is. But what matters is being the de-facto standard and having market scale.

Posted by Adroit1 on June 21, 2017

Another pile of money about to be flushed down the toilet. I was once told by a professor of marketing at a large university about bringing products to market. “your product has to be 50% better, or 50% cheaper than what is existing to have your product be successful”. This is neither. With Z-wave receptacles and switches being introduced by the thousands, and programs being designed and implemented to drive them, you already have the hybrid network Richmond Capital Partners is trying to establish with PLC. On top of not being either better or cheaper, and with its history to overcome, I just don’t see how it is going to be viable. Using the existing wiring is not going to be any different than Z-wave, and Insteon products are going to be proprietary, so there is no ability to expand the system except with Insteon products, making each home prisoner to one company and its pricing. Then there is still PCS out there which is a direct competitor, making profits even harder to come by.

Posted by tmaddison on June 20, 2017

“The first order of business for SmartLabs will be to invest in software.”

Hallelujah!

I’ve been a powerline interface user since the 80’s, starting with a little 8 device X10 controller cube that sat next to the couch, moving through the CP290, the CM11, and now the Insteon Hub.

Every time they update the hardware, the software takes a step backward.  The Insteon App is a miserable, lame bit of software that is barely usable.  Certainly not capable of anywhere near the features that prior versions of their own home control software had.

Yes, I know I can step up to software packages and controllers that allow for incredible sophistication, but I have barely five controlled devices in my house, and most of those are fairly simple - like front porch lamps.

Why is it so hard to understand that someone like me might want to be able to tell that lamp “turn on at 5pm if it’s dark, otherwise turn on at sunset minus 10 minutes”? 

I USED to be able to do that, but the Insteon app is barely capable of handling just turning it on at sunset - even that is flaky…  The lamp next to the couch mysteriously turns off at 9:40 at night, even though there’s nothing programmed to tell it that - and there do not appear to be ANY troubleshooting features to let me figure out why…

If Insteon wants to beta test something on a long-time user (and a CE professional, former technician and programmer, so I know a wee bit about these things…) sign me up!

Posted by paul greatreps.com on June 20, 2017

Your headline begs the question: When was PLC great before? X10? X10Pro? CEBus?