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Internet Home Alliance Bows Program

LAS VEGAS – As part of its ongoing effort to gage the resonance of Internet networked home products and solutions with consumers, the Internet Home Alliance (IHA) announced here that it has launched its fourth pilot program in 100 homes in Detroit.

The pilot, called OnStar at Home, features a collaboration between five IHA companies: Panasonic, Invensys, General Motors, OnStar, ADT Security Services and the latest member to the IHA fold, Hewlett Packard. It will run for four months starting in February and will focus around home security and home control in homes already using broadband Internet access and ADT security.

Each of the 100 test houses will be networked using products from the above companies (such as a Panasonic’s Web-cam) to allow the pilot consumers to access various functions in their home, like heating, security systems, lighting and door locks, remotely on a variety of Internet-enabled devices.

Users, for instance, can have a “smart doorbell” that follows them wherever they go. When a guest, invited or otherwise, presses the doorbell an alert can be sent to a cell phone or e-mail address. Another application is remote access to lighting so that exterior and interior lights can be turned on prior to arriving at home.

“What we’re aiming for with all our pilots is to determine just what Internet solutions are going to resonate with a broad base of customers, not the techo-elite early adopter crowd,” said Bill Kenney, chairman of the IHA and vice president, emerging home solutions, Sears Roebuck Co.

“These programs are a sneak peak at what might be hitting the market in two or three years,” Kenney said.

According to Alliance members, no definitive decision has been made on how these products and services will eventually be brought to market, if at all. Kenney noted that some combination of homebuilders, custom installers and some retail presence is likely if the pilot proves successful.