CentraLite Making Home Automation Hub for Lowe’s Iris, But Who is Providing … – CEPro

It looks like CentraLite, a manufacturer of ZigBee-enabled Internet of Things (IoT) devices including thermostats, lighting controls and security sensors, is probably making a home automation hub for Lowe’s Iris. But will it be powered on the back-end by Zonoff, Greenwave, Icontrol, or some other SHaaS (smart home as a service) provider? (We speculate below).

CE Pro has uncovered FCC documents filed last month by CentraLite, showing a “home automation gateway” alongside literature for a Lowe’s Iris “smart hub quick start guide.”

The FCC documents include RF testing reports for ZigBee and Bluetooth Smart (BLE). Although the FCC filings make no mention of it, there is also a Z-Wave module shown on the board (presumably already FCC certified).

Lowe’s current Smart Hub offers ZigBee and Z-Wave but does not offer BLE. The introduction of the new radio could open Iris up to proximity detection, device discovery and native communications with Bluetooth devices such as door locks and sensors.

Which IoT Cloud Platform Will Lowe’s Iris Pick?

While we’re confident CentraLite hardware is in fact being built for Lowe’s, we still don’t know who would provide the SHaaS (smart home as a service) platform for the product and the provider. When Lowe’s launched Iris in 2012, it relied on products and services from UK-based AlertMe, which was acquired earlier this year by British Gas and likely won’t be the back-end for a new Iris hub.

It is no secret that Lowe’s had been exploring other platform providers over the past couple of years.

CentraLite itself seems to be working on its own back end, pushing its hardware ecosystem with an IoT developers’ kit called Jilia that recently launched on Kickstarter. But CentraLite tells CE Pro the kit has nothing to do with Lowe’s Iris and is mostly geared toward enterprise-level customers.

“Jilia exposes all functionality of standards based devices through a simple API that developers of any skill level can easily consume,” says CentraLite CEO Jimmy Busby. “This will open up our large device ecosystem to a variety of enterprise customers who may not traditionally be considered IoT companies.”

RELATED: Wink Has Sold 300k Home Automation Hubs, But Biz is Dying; Whither the DIY Dream?

Jilia comprises two hardware add-ons for either Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone Black. They feature ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth and WiFi (BeagleBone only) radios, as well as environmental sensors and a few other bells and whistles. Expected to ship in Q4 of this year, the platform will also be ready for Thread and AllJoyn/AllSeen home automation networking protocols.

Along with the hardware, Jilia employs CentraLite’s “cloud-based infrastructure to manage, communicate, and control millions of always-connected devices,” CentraLite CTO John Calagaz says. “The Jilia framework provides these features directly through its API and can scale with an organization’s needs—from a few devices to millions, making IoT a reality where it wasn’t, before.”

If not CentraLite for SHaaS, then Who?
Here are today’s potential SHaaS options, along with their prospects as a Lowe’s partner (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the strongest possibility), based on nothing more than my own feeble opinions.

Zonoff (powers Staples Connect, maybe ADT DIY) – 5
Icontrol (ADT Pulse and most of the cable companies) – 5
Greenwave Systems (currently working with Verizon) – 4
MiOS (makes Vera, powers France’s Orange telecom service, Bosch and others) – 3.5
Samsung SmartThings – 3
Alarm.com (5,000+ independent security dealers but seeking a DIY play) – 2
Alertme – 0.5

Zonoff and Icontrol tie for the “most probable” because:

Zonoff is already powering Staples Connect—a DIY product quite similar to the new CentraLite hub, supporting ZigBee, Z-Wave, BLE and related communications protocols. Zonoff also is rumored to be powering the forthcoming DIY camera/security/automation system from ADT.

Icontrol works with both Z-Wave and ZigBee ecosystems and was CentraLite’s first SHaaS partner. The company has been focused on professionally-installed solutions (ADT Pulse and the cable companies) but now has a DIY partner in Peq as well as the Piper system it acquired last year. Recently, Icontrol announced a SHaaS implementation around the Z-Wave-enabled Piper for Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecom.

About CentraLite

Mobile, Ala.-based CentraLite started life in 1997 as a maker of hardwired lighting control systems for the custom installation channel. Ten years later, the company created a wireless lighting control line called JetStream – again for custom installers – utilizing ZigBee.

In 2012, the company reinvented itself yet again as an OEM provider of thermostats, sensors, lighting controls and other ZigBee devices, first for Icontrol customers (Comcast/Xfinity, Time Warner Cable and other cable companies, but not ADT Pulse). Later, CentraLite provided the same ZigBee products for use with DIY home automation hubs such as Wink, SmartThings and Staples Connect.

Now CentraLite sells products under its own brand, enjoying widespread distribution online and in retail stores.

The company has focused on ZigBee all these years but now is getting into the Z-Wave business.

FCC images: CentraLite Home Automation Gateway board for Lowe’s Iris – front and rear views
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JULIE JACOBSON
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