Introducing Peq: Best Buy’s New Home Automation System?
SmartHome Ventures creates ZigBee-enabled Peq home automation system, reportedly for Best Buy. Initial products seem sparse and unimpressive. UPDATE: Visonic & SMC sensors
Julie Jacobson · August 14, 2014
Best Buy has been notably absent in the smart home market, while mass-market home automation systems have cropped up in retailers that don’t specialize in electronics—like Home Depot (Wink), Lowes (Iris) and Staples (Connect).
It now appears that Best Buy finally will get a home control system to call its own: Peq. Zatz Not Funny tipped us to the Peq system, which he has learned will be sold at Best Buy, citing an unnamed source.
It’s your usual Internet-connected hub (made by Netgear, Zatz says) with devices connected via ZigBee and Wi-Fi.
While ZigBee is not mentioned in the Peq literature, we do know that the thermostat is ZigBee-enabled Pearl from CentraLite – a $159 gem used by the cable companies with their iControl-based control systems.
Makes sense. Peq was developed by a new company called SmartHome Ventures, headed by Ted Schremp, formerly of Charter Communications. Also part of the team is VP sales Christopher Caffrey, formerly VP business development at Comcast, but not in the area of home controls.
Oddly, none of the founding execs at SmartHome Ventures seems to have any experience with home automation.
Peq appears to be a me-too product and less – no Z-Wave?
UPDATE: Sensors for the Peq system (motion, CO, door/window) are made by leading wireless security manufacturer Visonic, which makes low-power, low-bandwidth products in the 315 MHz, 433 MHz and 868 MHz ranges. Visonic also makes 2.4 GHz ZigBee-enabled sensors for several iControl-based automation systems, like this MCT-320 door/window sensor. Here’s an example of one of Visonic’s CO detectors, the MCT-422
Water sensors we now know are made by SMC. Peq appears to be using SMC’s ZigBee-enabled SMCWA10-Z Oaziss sensor.
UPDATE 2: So it seems the YouTube videos posted by Peq just three weeks ago are either already outdated or simply incomplete. The videos show door/window, water and motion detectors from Visonic and SMC. But CentraLite followed up with CE Pro and told us they are making those very detectors for Peq (along with the thermostat and lamp and appliance modules). Versions of these products were demonstrated at CES 2014.
It’s difficult to tell by Peq’s just-launched Website how it differs from Staples Connect, Wink Hub by Quirky, Lowe’s Iris, SmartThings (acquired by Samsung), Revolv or any of the other bjillion DIY home-control products flooding the market.
It’s not even particularly cheap for this increasingly competitive market. The hub itself is $120 (includes one door/window sensor). A complete kit with a hub, two sensors, two lamp modules, two motion sensors, one water sensor and a thermostat is $490.
Here’s the complete roster of products shown on the Peq site:
- Door/window sensor - monitors if doors and windows are closed ($35)
- Door/window sensor - monitors if doors and windows are open or closed?! ($50)
- Motion sensor ($45)
- Motion sensor with pet detection ($70)
- Water sensor ($50)
- Carbon monoxide detector ($90)
- Wi-Fi Camera - A/C power required ($130)
- Thermostat ($130)
- Plug-in appliance module ($55)
- Plug-in lamp module, dimmable ($55)
Fees are $10 per month, which is a bit hefty for the DIY crowd. That fee includes live video streaming from the Peq camera (up to four) and storage of up to 20 video clips and 40 image captures today. Strangely enough, even text-message alerts are limited to 20 SMS messages per day.
And the device enrollment process seems pretty straight-forward judging from Peq’s instructional videos, which are excellent. Pairing devices is what seems to trip up other home automation solutions, so hopefully Peq and Best Buy have nailed it.
Apps are available for iOS and Android.
So the big question is: What took Best Buy so long? A bigger story is this: Is Best Buy actually endorsing the system or is it just going to be one of many smart-home products that it will sell online? I’m guessing the latter, in which case Peq would be available through other outlets—just like Revolv, which also is sold by Best Buy. Currently Peq offers it for sale on its own Website.
CE Pro will keep you posted!
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@example.com
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