updated 09:57 pm EDT, Thu May 15, 2014
Insteon app brings exclusive use to Windows OS, items available in Microsoft stores
In a deal with Insteon, Microsoft has announced that it will be taking its first steps into the home automation market. The agreement between the two companies will begin June 1, with an enhanced version of the Insteon app with exclusive features for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8. Insteon products will also make their way into Microsoft stores under the deal.
Insteon items will roll out to Microsoft stores, both physical and online, starting with a small range of the company's products. Kits unique to the stores will be offered at first -- a starter kit and kits for home and business use, beginning at $199. In addition to the kits, five stand-alone pieces will be offered. Those pieces -- an LED bulb, leak sensor, wireless Wi-Fi camera, on/off module and open/close sensor -- will be priced from $30 to $80. Items will arrive at the online store in June, while brick and mortar locations will see them in July.
When the app comes to Windows phones, it will bring with it features designed to make use of the Windows OS. These exclusive features include a visitor mode, control of multiple homes, a dashboard view and additional camera support. The most visible tie-in comes from the application's use of live tiles. While only available on Windows 8.1 when launched, the app will allow users to get status updates from multiple devices on the start screen.
The other app additions give some decent functionality options for people using Insteon devices. The visitor mode will allow restricted access to people within the home. Support for multiple homes will be allowed on a single account from the application. The dashboard view gives users of the app a quick list view of the status of the devices within a home. Camera support is improved, giving full-screen views, the ability to see multiple cameras at once and other support without the need to buy an Insteon hub. With the exclusive deal, the Windows app may become the preferred method to control Insteon products for the camera support option alone. Buying the hub separately would cost a consumer $130.
"The Windows 8.1 platform provided Insteon with an unparalleled opportunity to develop a beautiful and easy-to-use connected home experience," says Insteon CEO Joe Dada in a statement from the company. "The live tile architecture is especially well-suited for home automation. Users are going to love controlling their Insteon-connected home from their Windows devices."