UControl launches OpenSMA

‘It’s all about the ecosystem’
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Thursday, October 28, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas—Interoperability and open standards are the keys to making the “connected home” a reality, say executives from uControl, a home security and automation provider. This week they announced the formation of “OpenSMA,” a consortium of service and product providers who are committed to “complete compatibility and integration across all products and services.”

“We want to give service providers the best of breed of everything, make it a free market economy in the connected home ecosystem,” said Jason Domangue, uControl VP of marketing. “We want to allow the best mix of services and products to rise to the top,” he said.

The group is committed to agnostic technology and a collaboration of “the widest variety of players.” Don’t groups like the Zig-Bee Alliance, which promote interoperability among products, already do that? These organizations are vital, but only one piece of the puzzle, Domangue said. “It’s not just about interoperability, it’s about synergistic partnerships.”

OpenSMA is a consortium of what it calls vertical segments: service providers, platform hardware, lifestyle devices, apps, and infrastructure.

Some members fall into more than one category, he noted.

OpenSMA has a launched a new website, www.OpenSMA.com, which will include new members, events, white papers and member news.

The founding members of the group are: CentraLite, Comporium, Ember, Massillon, NewWave Communications, SMC Networks and The Weather Channel.

Service providers including “the cables and telcos that deploy and brand and sell the system,” such as Comporium, Massillon, New Wave Communication are the first cable companies to join. Platform hardware is the devices in the house that uControl’s platform runs on, such as set-top boxes; home gateway, router, modem vendors, and multi-media tablet manufacturers. Domangue noted that uControl will “have announcements soon about other providers and options for different hardware devices—from well-known names.”

Lifestyle devices include the sensors, thermostats, lighting controls, cameras, door locks and other devices that use open standards such as ZigBee and Wi-Fi to integrate into the SMA.

The Apps category was created to foster creative uses of the ecosystems. It will enable members to collaborate and create products and services that tie different pieces of the home ecosystem together. Any member can potentially create an app and all apps will be certified and approved. The Weather Channel is a member that falls into this category.

Infrastructure includes industry players “who provide the glue to make everything else work.” The founding member of the Infrastructure segment is Ember, which makes a ZigBee chipset and protocol.

In launching OpenSMA, uControl is intentionally taking a back seat to the connected home ecosystem, Domangue said.

“We want to elevate the ecosystem and components of the ecosystem rather than putting uControl first,” he said.