Lowe’s launches home automation/home security service
MOOREVILLE, N.C.—Lowe’s, the world’s second-largest home improvement retailer, announced July 19 that it has launched Iris, its new home automation/home security service. The do-it-yourself, cloud-based service currently is available on Lowes.com and will be offered in the company’s 500 stores nationwide late in August, Sarah-Frances Wallace, a spokeswoman for Lowe’s, told Security Systems News.
“It’s a DIY system. It’s something that can literally be pulled off the shelf at our store and installed directly by the homeowner, and also it is self-monitored,” Wallace told SSN. “We’re really excited about the solution we’re offering to customers, which is affordable, scalable and customizable for their specific needs.”
After homeowners buy one of three Iris “starter kits,” which range in price from $179 to $299, “the basic level of [self-] monitoring service is free,” the company, based here, said in a news release. “This includes text [or phone or email] alerts to the homeowner when alarms are triggered; remote control of connected devices, thermostats and locks; and access to remote video streaming from cameras in the home via smartphone or computer.”
Wallace said homeowners “can respond appropriately” when they get an alert for a triggered alarm in the home. For example, she said, they can use an Iris camera to see “if there’s an intruder in your home that would require police response—you could then call the police—or if it’s the dog knocking something over.”
Wallace said self-monitoring helps avoid the problem of false alarms, for which many communities now charge homeowners a penalty. “This kind of gives the homeowner more control over triggered alarm events in the home,” she said.
The company also is offering a Premium self-monitoring service for $9.99 per month, “with no long-term contract obligations.” Wallace said that with the service, “you can set it up so if there’s a triggered event in your home, it would email [or text or call] your neighbor … [or a] a small network of people you’d want to receive notification of events.”
Such a service is ideal “if you’re on vacation and you receive a notification that there is an event in your home,” she said. “You could contact your neighbor—because they’ve also received [the notification]—and they could look into it for you.”
Lowe’s said the Premium service also includes “a unique feature—Iris Magic. Magic allows customers to ‘program’ their home through the use of home modes and customized rules for home management. These features provide simple ways for the homeowner to manage their home at night or while on vacation, utilizing scheduled device activation to move around in certain areas of the home at night or turn on lights and other devices on varying schedules when on vacation.”
Lowe’s about six months ago announced its plans to launch Iris this summer. Its entry into the space was cited in a new report as a factor in moving home automation/home security services into the mainstream and contributing to the predicted huge growth in that market.
The Iris starter kits are: Iris Safe & Secure, which for $179 includes an Iris Hub, motion sensors, a keypad and door, window and cabinet sensors; Iris Comfort & Control, which for the same price includes the Iris Hub, a thermostat “with an intuitive user interface,” and a smart plug that can “remotely control devices in the home and report back on the specific device's current and historical energy usage”; and the Iris Smart Kit, which for $299 combines the features of the other two kits and includes an Iris Hub, a motion sensor, a smart plug, a keypad, a range extender, a smart thermostat and two window, door and cabinet sensors.
Additional smart devices and sensors are available to homeowners to fit their needs, the company said. It said the Iris app “is available for free download for both iOS (iPhone, iPod touch and iPad) and Android users. Customers can also sign in to manage their home and view their user interface by visiting Lowes.com/Iris on any computer.”
Wallace said the company does not provide installation assistance for Iris, although she said that it is “something we certainly will be evaluating going forward.”
However, she said, there are videos on Lowe’s website demonstrating how to install devices. Wallace said homeowners familiar with such tasks as installing a new thermostat will have no problem installing the Iris thermostat. But she said if such tasks are “something they’ve always had done for them, they may still need to find somebody to help them out with that.”
Lowe’s said it has partnered with AlertMe, a smart-home technology company based in London, to develop the Iris platform and hub.
Lowe’s said it is also working with a “broad network of vendor partners to further develop a wide range of devices that are compatible with Iris,” including Schlage, GE Jasco and First Alert.
For example, Wallace said, First Alert smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors could be used with Iris. “The great thing about Iris and Lowe’s entering into this space is that we have a broad, broad network of vendor partners who can … create products to work with Iris, so that literally, probably, one day anything in our store that can connect will be able to connect with Iris,” she said.
Among vendor-produced products that Wallace said the Iris team is looking at is an automated pet door.
“Think of all your friends that go home at lunch to take the dog out. It would save them lots of time if they could remotely open the dog door for their dog, lock it behind the dog to ensure security, and when the dog comes back, you let him in and close it behind him,” she said.