Trying to get a bunch of different smart home devices to work together seamlessly can be a serious headache. The problem is that there are a ton of devices from a bunch of different companies and these devices don't always like to work together nicely. So unless you've shrewdly pre-selected gadgets guaranteed to play nice with either Apple, Google, or Amazon, you're going to run into some issues. AdMobilize's $349 Matrix is designed to solve this problem (directly converts to about £230, AU$495).
The company describes the Matrix as a small but impressive device with the intelligence to corral, unite and command every connected gizmo living under your smart roof. This includes everything from sophisticated Nest thermostats to basic Wi-Fi webcams and even simple wireless door and window sensors.
What is the Matrix?
The Matrix is a compact black disc about 4 inches in diameter (10cm), and is essentially made to serve as the ultimate hub for your fancy smart-home products. To this end AdMobilize claims the Matrix will conceal a lot of technology. Similar to a smartphone, this list of internal devices will include a camera, microphone and speakers, and sensors to measure temperature, ambient light and humidity -- not to mention a gyroscope, altimeter and barometer.
Additionally the Matrix Machine will have many methods for wireless communication at its disposal. According to AdMobilize tucked inside the Matrix chassis will be multiple radios enabling data transmission via Bluetooth, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, along with CDMA and GSM 3G cellular protocols. Running the show is a 1GHz quad-core application processor from silicon vendor Freescale.
A hub for your hubs
The reason for all the Matrix's hardware is simple. Its creators envision it to go way beyond typical smart home hubs, which are more like specialized network routers, and operate as a high-octane smart home server -- a hub to end all hubs if you will. Indeed AdMobilize claims that by taking advantage of existing software API tools from prominent smart home device makers, for example Nest and August, the Matrix will be very automated, run its own operating system, and serve as the primary control point for these products plus any hub devices they require.
And because the gadget comes with a wide range of communication methods, AdMobilize also says that connecting semi-smart devices such as networked cameras and Bluetooth security sensors to the Matrix should be breeze.
Another interesting ability AdMobilize has in mind for the Matrix is robust presence monitoring. With cameras hooked up, the Matrix will supposedly be able to process live video feeds to accurately track the movement of particular individuals and even vehicles within sight.
This may sound a bit farfetched but the company already hawks a product, called the AdBeacon, with similar capabilities. Running complex face-detection software, the AdBeacon sits next to billboards and other physical advertisements. AdMobilize claims this enables the box-shaped camera to quantify public impressions in the real world and in real time complete with reaction analysis (positive or negative).
The final piece of the Matrix puzzle is its operating system. Intended to be completely open source, AdMobilize expressed the wish to create its own app store the desire for the Matrix. It also envisions a scenario where developers freely write applications for the product in new and innovative ways.
AdMobilize certainly has lofty ambitions for the Matrix but while I admit the device's promised abilities sound intriguing, I have serious doubts the company can actually pull off what it intends. The first obstacle is the product's high price, which even at the special Kickstarter early-bird backer fee of $199 is double that of the competing.
And while the Amazon Echo costs just slightly less at $180 (roughly converts to £125 in the UK, a little over AU$230 in Australia), the Matrix will have to bring incredibly good voice control and a beautiful user interface to the table to sway shoppers away from Amazon's slickly crafted smart home device. This is even more crucial when you consider the actual $349 price of the Matrix which is shockingly high.
I'm afraid the real challenge for the Matrix to become a real and successful product lie outside of its creator's control. Even if the final Matrix unit demonstrates rock solid and elegant command over popular gadgets such as the Nest Thermostat, support could end abruptly if the powers that be decide the AdMobilize partnership isn't worthwhile. The same is true of plans for a Matrix app store. App developers are a fickle bunch and it's always a gamble to get behind any given solution, just askand .