Comcast is looking to turn Xfinity broadband into a kind of “home operating system,” promising to bring home-automation controls for hundreds of devices to Xfinity Internet customers at no extra cost.
The cable giant unveiled the new “Works With Xfinity” home-automation partner program at CES 2018 on Wednesday, showing off different ways it plans to let Xfinity customers use its TV and broadband services to control devices in a Wi-Fi-connected home. For example, a Comcast customer could use the X1 voice remote to say, “Good night” — and the system would automatically lock all the doors, turn off lights, adjust thermostats, and arm the home-security system.
The goal, for Comcast, is to get embedded into customers’ homes through the different IoT devices and provide useful features so they’ll be less likely to switch providers
“It’s another value of being an internet customer,” said Matt Strauss, Comcast Cable’s EVP of Xfinity services. “We see X1 as a platform… where in many ways we see the television as just being a screen for interacting with other devices in your home.”
Comcast offers some home-automation features already with its Xfinity Home security service, which has about 1 million customers. What’s different with the new program is that Comcast is decoupling automation from security: The new IoT features will be available to all 15 million of the cable operator’s broadband internet customers.
The IoT program keys off xFi, which provides a digital dashboard to set up their home Wi-Fi network, find their password, see what devices are connected, troubleshoot issues, set parental controls and manage other features. The xFi wireless gateways can be controlled via a mobile app, website and on the TV with the X1 voice remote. According to Comcast, since it was launched in May 2017, more than 4 million customers have used the new service.
Comcast also is tapping into the capabilities of Stringify, a tech startup it acquired in September 2017 that provides a network-based automation service that can connect with more than 500 IoT products and digital services.
The cable operator said Stringify’s technology will soon be integrated into Xfinity’s products and services, to let customers create and use rules and controls for device brands including August, Carrier, Chamberlain, ecobee, GE, Honeywell, Kwikset, Liftmaster, LIFX, Lutron, Nest, Netgear Arlo, Philips Hue, Danalock, Sengled, SkyBell, Tile, Yale, and Zen Ecosystems.