AT&T Digital Life: No Home Automation for U.S. Market (Yet)

AT&T’s Kevin Peterson tells CE Pro that ‘Digital Life’ is unlike home automation services from Comcast, Verizon, TWC; Z-Wave, Cisco/Linksys under the hood.

AT&T Digital Life: No Home Automation for U.S. Market (Yet)
AT&T Digital Life platform enables the usual home automation fare: lighting control, home security, energy management, remote monitoring, automated door locks, etc.
Julie Jacobson · February 24, 2012

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.

In the video, we spied a Z-Wave siren/strobe alarm from Fortrezz and a Z-Wave thermostat from Wayne Dalton/Intermatic/InTouch (all dead; OEM is Radio Thermostat of America).

Also in the video were a Kaba door lock and Cisco/Linksys IP camera that appears to be the Wireless G WVC200 with pan/tilt/zoom.

Presumably, though, the AT&T platform can support ZigBee and other technologies and products. That’s what Peterson would say if I asked.

Plans for U.S. Home Automation Market?

AT&T is mum on plans for the U.S. market and the retail business.

Peterson says the company is focusing currently on international markets, i.e., not the U.S.

I assumed (aloud) that this meant AT&T was saving the U.S. for an AT&T-branded consumer offering. No comment.

AT&T, of course, would be in good company. Last year, telecom rival Verizon launched its Home Monitoring & Control solution powered by Motorola 4Home (starting at $9.99/month).

RELATED: AT&T Acquires Xanboo, Developer of Home Automation Platform

We also saw cable providers launching home-control solutions using technology from iControl (and the former uControl): Comcast/Xfinity’s Home Security, Time Warner’s Intelligent Home, and Rogers Communications’ Smart Home Monitoring, among others

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.

Read AT&T Digital Life Press Release

VIDEO: AT&T Digital Life showcases Z-Wave devices, Cisco camera

AT&T Digital Life on iPad

  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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  Article Topics

Security · News · AT&T · Z-Wave · All Topics
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