AT&T’s Digital Life program may have started overseas, but this summer AT&T will offer its new connected home service in two U.S. trial markets — Atlanta and Dallas — where it will install home monitoring sensors and automation controls that homeowners can access from any Web browser, smartphone or tablet.
AT&T is starting out with seven applications: security cameras; window/door sensors; smoke, carbon monoxide, motion and glass break detectors; remote door lock controls; remote thermostat access; moisture detection sensors; and remote home appliance controls. The devices all connect back to a home control hub through Wi-Fi or Z-Wave radios. The home broadband connection supplies the link back to AT&T’s security monitoring center and customers can access the connected home service through a Web portal or smartphone app.
Though AT&T is initially trialing the service in two of its U-Verse markets, Ma Bell said it would be ISP agnostic. AT&T also won’t require customers to sign up for it’s mobile service to use the smartphone and tablet apps (it didn’t say which smartphone platforms would be supported).
AT&T certainly isn’t the only company looking to tap into the home automation trend, and not even the first operator. Verizon started a smart home pilot with Z-Wave last year, launching the service commercially in June. Time Warner Cable and Comcast have their own home-energy management services as well. AT&T’s smart home plans seem particular ambitious, though. Instead of reselling M2M devices and providing raw connectivity, AT&T is trying to tie all of these disparate sensors and devices together to create a more intelligent connected home platform.
At Mobile World Congress, AT&T first demoed Digital Life’s capabilities, showing off the ability to create home profiles that could group automation functions together. For instance, when the front door is unlocked the thermostat could immediately turn on and the blinds automatically open. Or if an oven warning sensor goes off, the platform not only ships an SMS warning message to the homeowner’s smartphone but a link to a live video feed from the kitchen camera.
AT&T also made the odd move of licensing its smart home technology to other operators internationally before it started offering it to its own customers back home. AT&T apparently isn’t just content to just sell smart home service. It wants to compete with iControl and other platform providers in connected home management as well.