Home automation is one of those things that always sounds great, but also never really seems to show up. We've seen cartoons about the House of Tomorrow for a long time now, but aside from refridgerators that can tweet, and maybe options to control heat or lighting, most houses don't have much as far as automation. But, it looks like three tech giants are looking to get serious as Apple, Google, and Microsoft are all reportedly vying to purchase a home automation company.
The company is called R2 Studios, and while the company hasn't released many actual products yet, it did release an Android app last year that let users control heating and lighting systems in their homes from a mobile device. It also owns patents related to interfaces and controlling electronic devices (and that may be the real key for at least one of the companies involved in this rumor).
Microsoft has been talking about home automation since Bill Gates was showing off his pimped out crib, but that was close to 10 years ago, and any products from Redmond are still just vaporware. Google has been showing some very interesting stuff over the last couple years with Android@Home
, and Android has been making it into more and more household appliances, especially Samsung appliances
(which aren't necessarily compatible with Android@Home), so it is the company that seems most likely to make good use of the R2 Studios acquisition.
Apple is the odd one out, because the company has never really shown an interest in home automation. The closest the company has gotten is having an employee release a thermostat
(#12 on the list in the link) through his own company. And, unless Apple is going to really break its tightly controlled ecosystem and allow other appliance manufacturers to start making "Apple" products, it's hard to imagine what Apple would get from the deal beyond the R2 patent portfolio.