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Lowe's Expanding Iris Home-Control System

1/07/2013 07:00:00 PM Eastern

LAS VEGAS – Home-improvement chain Lowe’s is coming to International CES to expand its Iris homecontrol and home-monitoring system with the addition of 15 more products and services, including Iris’s first home-network products.

The do-it-yourself system, launched in July 2012, enables homeowners to monitor and control home systems from anywhere via smartphone, tablet or computer with a free basic level of service. Products will be demonstrated in the San Polo room 3403 of the Venetian.

The home-network products will include routers, switches, Wi-Fi range extenders and powerline solutions to help expand home-network coverage for such activities as video streaming and the use of smartphones and tablets inside the house, the company said.

Lowe’s will roll out the new network products to as many as 100 Lowe’s stores in the U.S. in the first half of 2013 followed by a full rollout later in the year.

Also at CES, the chain will showcase new Iris partnerships with such companies as Verizon, Honeywell, Whirlpool, Electrolux, Jarden Safety, Orbit Irrigation Products, Pet Safe, Plastair, Spring Window Fashions, Sylvania, Yale and Pella. Lowe’s existing partners are Schlage, First Alert, GE Jasco and Radio Thermostat of America.

The Iris do-it-yourself system is monitored and controlled via an app on Android and iOS tablets and smartphones. Iris systems use the wireless ZigBee, ZWave and Wi-Fi standards to connect to security sensors, Wi-Fi security cameras, thermostats and smart plugs, which provide remote control of plugged-in lamps.

The Iris app also supports third-party wireless devices such as Schlage deadbolt door locks, FirstAlert smoke detectors, and products from GE Jasco and Radio Thermostat of America.

By November 2012, the chain had rolled out Iris to 500 stores and planned to expand sales to all of its 1,750 stores by the end of 2013.

From within the home, consumers use their smartphones and tablets to control home systems via a Wi- Fi-connected Iris Smart Hub, which incorporates the ZigBee and Z-Wave wireless-control technologies. From remote sites, Iris systems can be controlled from smartphones and tablets via cellular if Iris is connected to a home’s broadband modem.

Lowe’s also offers a Verizon-network cellular USB modem to deliver a remote connection to the Iris Hub, making a wired broadband modem unnecessary.

During CES, Lowe’s will demonstrate such products and services as alerting homeowners to smoke and carbon monoxide in the home even if they are away from home; controlling door locks while away from home; and controlling and monitoring thermostats, sprinkler systems, window blinds and networkconnected light bulbs. The chain will also demonstrate a pet door that tracks the comings and goings of up to five different pets and a moisture sensor that reminds homeowners to water their plants.

Currently, Lowe’s offers three Iris starter kits. The $179 Safe & Secure kit features motion and contact sensors to monitor a home. Users receive an email, text or call when alarm events happen at home or when children arrive home from school. The kit includes an Iris Hub, motion sensors, an in-home keypad, a door sensor, a window sensor, and a cabinet sensor.

A second $179 kit, called Iris Comfort & Control, includes the Iris Hub, a thermostat, and a smart plug that can remotely control devices in the home and report back on a current and historical energy usage.

The $299 Iris Smart kit combines the features of the 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.

The free basic service sends alarm alerts to a single account holder, enables review of the last three events in system history, lets users turn devices on and off remotely, delivers streaming security-camera video for up to two minutes to a computer or mobile device, delivers remote thermostat control from a computer or mobile device, delivers a real-time view of electricity consumption, and enables remote door locking and unlocking.

The $9.99/month premium service alerts up to six people from the user’s address book when an alarm is triggered. Different people can be alerted about different events, and Iris can contact a list of people in priority order.

Among other things, the premium service also lets users set specific schedules for devices and link control to events, stream security-camera video for up to 10 minutes, record video on command or based on alarms and events using rules that users set, and store up to 1GB of video online.

The premium service also features two home modes to save energy when you’re away from home; provides consumption-based triggers to automatically turn off items in a home; and has four home modes, or default settings, of alarms, locks, lights and video cameras when users are on vacation, when they’re sleeping and the like.