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PEQ utilizes smartphones as a connected home remote

Home automation service PEQ has launched a central hub that wirelessly connects to cameras, door and window sensors, thermostats and more, allowing consumers to view, manage and receive alerts from their homes through a mobile application.

Consumers show interest in home automation but find that fee-based solutions are still too complex and expensive. And with PEQ?s monthly subscription and initial setup costs, it may be at a disadvantage, as the DIY smart home space is getting crowded with plenty of cheaper alternatives.

?As more consumers adopt the Mobile First lifestyle, mobile is becoming the key interface where people want to view, control, and receive alerts with their homes,? said Ted Schremp , CEO, SmartHome Ventures.

?Thanks to mobile, people are able to live life anywhere and still enjoy the peace of mind to be home even when they?re not. Continued advancements in the functionalities, physical form, and interface of mobile devices will completely transform how consumers are interacting with their homes, and loved ones, and the connected home experience will enhance alongside these developments to make it even more seamless, and accessible to the mass market.?

?Mobile technologies, coupled with comprehensive service and support is what will take the connected home to the next phase, and truly penetrate the mass market,? he said.

Whole-home solution
Some contractors imagine building a connected home from the ground up, but most consumers and suppliers are starting by connecting smaller devices that use smartphones as a remote control. As the technology enablers for the connected home have finally converged, two types of offerings have emerged: service providers pitching smart-home service bundles with monthly fees, and specialized vendors offering individual smart products that bring intelligence to a specific home need.

According to a recent Forrester report, one-third of consumers say they are interested in the connected home, but only 1-2 percent have connected devices to control lighting, climate, energy, appliances or to provide remote home management.

As a result, the connected home will evolve incrementally, in bite-sized products that service providers will then pull together and orchestrate.

For $9.99 a month, PEQ (pronounced ?peek?) offers customers the convenience of monitoring and controlling their home from a single, easy-to-use app with no contract. Customers begin by purchasing a starter kit for $119.99, which includes a hub for connectivity, and one door and window sensor.

Customers can then customize their PEQ system according to their unique needs by choosing from a variety of devices including the PEQ camera, smart thermostat, light and appliance modules, motion sensor, water sensor and carbon monoxide detector.

All devices are interoperable, and managed through a single, user-friendly app that enables consumers to create simple yet powerful custom rules that personalize their service, making it simple to tell devices when to turn on or off, how to interact with each other and when and how to contact the end user via e-mail or text message.

They may also stream live video to their smartphone, record and store video clips and pictures either on demand or based on triggering events such as motion or the opening of a door.

While PEQ is available through a growing network of online and in-store distribution partners, it can also be purchased at select Best Buy store locations and on on August 31st.

Battle beyond the living room
As the costs for creating a conscious home are dropping, device makers, utilities and telecoms are in fierce competition to delivers products that take care of their occupants instead of the other way around.

This is most recently evidenced by Samsung?s acquirement of SmartThings, a startup that enables consumers to sync their home appliances to a smartphone via a $99 device.

A 2013 Berg Insight report forecast that there will be 17.4 million installed smart-home systems in Europe and 31.4 million in the U.S. by 2017, with annual revenues, including from hardware, services and installation, reaching $3.4 billion in Europe and $9.4 billion in the U.S.

The market continues to grow because of the smartphone?s ubiquitous ability to act as a control center for connected devices. Broadband and cloud services have also become more affordable and the IoT is maturing with new benchmarks that let devices communicate with one another. Honeywell, General Electric and Koninklijke Philips are all jumping on the bandwagon to sell Internet-connectable gear.

Hue light bulbs, developed by Philips are controllable through a smartphone, and allow consumers to set custom lighting for ambience, turn lights on or off remotely, and set lights to slowly brighten in the morning.

Similarly, the Nest Protect smoke alarm sends SMS messages to user?s mobile device if it senses smoke or has low batteries. It speaks with a human voice before sounding a loud alarm and can be silenced with a wave. The device can also connect to Nest?s thermostat, which will automatically turn off the gas furnace if there is a carbon monoxide leak.

But the biggest players are still the tech giants. Google has reportedly spent near $4 billion acquiring Nest Labs and Dropcam; Apple is making connected homes a central strategy with its HomeKit; and Microsoft is testing how to control the home by integrating its Cortana intelligent assistant with Insteon?s thermostatic control.

According to Forrester, the most popular connected home device is security systems, and while the industry is just beginning to enter a hype cycle from early adopters, it hasn?t reached a mass market just yet.

?The disconnect lies in the fact that current home automation products are designed for early adopters, not for the average consumer,? Mr. Shremp said.

?While it has piqued consumer interest, the average consumer doesn?t want to be their own systems integrator. With PEQ, we have designed a service that takes this into account; This is not just for the tech savvy folks in the family, it?s designed for everyone.?

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York