January 12, 2011

Verizon Tests Home Monitoring and Control Service

Verizon (News - Alert) is readying to introduce a home monitoring and control service.

The service, which the company demonstrated to press earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show, is now in trial with less than 1,000 Verizon employees whose homes are on the company’s DSL or FiOS (News - Alert) networks in New Jersey, says Ann Shaub, director of consumer product management at Verizon. If all goes as expected, she says, Verizon will launch the service commercially across the company’s network footprint at the end of the first quarter of 2011.

The service will enable customers to use their smartphones, computers and/or FiOS TV services to lock doors remotely; see what's going on at home via networked cameras; and adjust, control and set their appliances, lights and thermostats.

Verizon’s Home Monitoring and Control interface allows the customer to turn off an individual lamp, for example, get an energy reading on that particular lamp, and even view a graphic that indicates how that energy usage compares to other products, explains Hassane Bouhia, group manager of Verizon broadband solutions. Customers also can tap into the Verizon interface to see their total home energy consumption and gets tips on how to realize energy savings.

Shaub adds that Verizon won’t say that its service will lower the consumer’s energy costs, but it will give them the tools to make their own decisions around energy consumption.

While it can be interesting to look at your energy consumption, few want to make a full-time job out of it, so the Verizon service enables consumers to create various “modes” for home automation, says Bouhia. For example, a vacation mode could allow for lights to be turned on and off automatically at certain times of the day or night.

The service also has some wireless tie-ins. For example, if the user wants, he or she can receive text messages if, for example, there is activity on his or her home security camera. Also, there’s a mobile application for the Home Monitoring and Control service, so customers can have the same experience on their mobile as they would accessing the interface via a computer or FiOS-enabled TV.

Verizon is also keenly focused on validating the customer experience and service set up during the Home Monitoring and Control service trial, adds Shaub. The company has various kits customers can select from that allow for control and monitoring of select parts of the home – such as light fixtures or the home camera for self-service security – as well as a whole home solution. She adds that Z-Wave technology allow for plug-and-play functionality of these various Home Monitoring and Control kits.

As discussed in the October issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY (page 6), Z-Wave stemmed from a technology called Zensys, now owned by Sigma Designs (News - Alert), that employs wireless mesh network technology that can be used in the home. The solution has been in the market for eight years and millions of products – from locks to thermostats to light switches – based on it have been shipped, says Mary Miller, director of marketing for the Z-Wave Alliance.

Edited by Tammy Wolf




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