Cisco ties knot with Control4 for smart home

The networking giant invests in Control4 and will use its "connected home" operating system in energy deals with utilities and cities investing in modern IT infrastructure.

Control4's Energy Management System (EMS) 100 will be used by Cisco in smart-grid deals.
Control4's Energy Management System (EMS) 100 will be used by Cisco in smart-grid deals. Martin LaMonica/CNET

Cisco Systems has invested in Control4 and intends to use Control4's home automation software in large deals with utilities and cities.

The deal, announced today, calls for Cisco to sell Control4 products, such as its home energy management dashboard, under the Cisco brand and to create closer ties between the two companies' products. Cisco invested an undisclosed amount but was the lead investor in a recent round of private funding in Salt Lake City-based Control4.

Control4's software is like an operating system for connected devices in a home, including consumer electronics, home appliances, lights, and thermostats, said company CEO Will West. Having access to Cisco's sales force and relationships with cities and utilities will accelerate the move to the connected home and home automation , he said.

High-end home media systems use Control4's software and touch-screen controllers to, for example, stream video and audio to different rooms. Its home energy management system , a small dashboard device tied to a utility meter, has been picked by some utilities as part of smart-grid programs.

Cisco intends to tie Control4's software to its consumer products, such as its home networking gear, consumer videoconferencing, and voice over IP phones, said Paul Fulton, vice president and general manager of Cisco's prosumer business unit. Cisco also has an Internet-based development platform for writing applications for these connected devices.

The goal is to have a full suite of products when selling home automation to utilities, helping consumers to improve efficiency by controlling and monitoring energy use. It also ties into Cisco's "smart and connected communities" strategy for urban development through which cities invest in a modern technology infrastructure, including broadband access and connected devices.

Cisco already has its own home energy management system , similar to Control 4's Energy Management System 100. Fulton said that Cisco's product, which costs more, will continue to be offered to utilities. The deal between the two companies is not exclusive.

 

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