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Service providers lean on Affinegy to make 'Smart Home' a reality Special

By Cadie Carroll     Mar 14, 2013 in Business
From cell phones and tablets to televisions and security systems, it may seem as if everything in your home is starting to come with the word “smart” before it.
And with technology booming like never before, that trend doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon.
Enter Affinegy, an Austin-based software company that is embracing this growth by perpetuating and nurturing the idea of a smart home.
Simply put, the smart home is all about having multiple smart devices, such as wireless cameras, mobile phones, computers, tablets, printers and TVs, connected to one another and the Internet via the home network.
Affinegy’s software products serve as a platform to help one easily connect, manage and monitor their smart home, making it easier than ever to oversee and control your devices.
Affinegy Co-founder and CEO Melissa Simpler described the Affinegy platform as “the vehicle for remote, secure, and scalable management of connected services for the home or small business.”
She spoke with the Digital Journal in an exclusive interview about the company’s start and how it plans to introduce new and exciting tech-innovation to households everywhere.
“The role of an independent software vendor is to be able to deploy solutions that support the existing home and enable new things to be connected to that home in a simple seamless secure fashion,” she said.
Celebrating its 10-year anniversary on March 17, Affinegy has been around long enough to know a thing or two about connecting the home. Simpler recounts:
“You know this thing called Wi-Fi was hitting the shelves in 2003. At the impulse price point, consumers were bringing that device into their home from Best Buy, or maybe Time Warner Cable dropped a gateway into the home, but then they started calling or taking products back saying ‘internet not working.’ We came up with a software way to enable the non-technical user to become the home CTO in a very simple, seamless fashion. It was out-of-box home network gear set up where we encrypted the wireless communications and locked down the access to the router. We did things to make it secure for the home user. We turned the device into a black box and stuck the service provider brand on the experience, so from self install to self care we’ve created this home network management platform.”
And then it was born: the Smart Home. The first steps were taken to create an easy, user-friendly experience that, as Simpler said, would allow anyone to become their home “chief technology officer.”
As time went on, Simpler said Affinegy’s goal was to promote their products as “The Platform for the Internet of All Things” and does so by promoting four pillars: communication, entertainment, convenience and peace-of-mind.
To learn more, we reached out to Joel Espelien, a Senior Analyst with The Diffusion Group.
Espelien discussed with the Digital Journal this idea of a smart home and how Affinegy is helping to encourage this type of innovation.
“Smart home has often been seen in the past as synonymous either with security or with expensive, complicated systems that were built into your house to do geeky things like turn on and off the lights by remote control,” he said, but not anymore.
“Everyday products are getting smart. As they do, all of our homes, whether you live in a rental apartment or an old house that was built 100 years ago, are getting smarter as well.”
Espelien explained that there were three main drivers for a smart home, as follows:
• Ubiquitous home Wi-Fi networks
• Rapid diffusion of tablets and smart phones (which are used in every room of the house indoors and out); and
• Proliferation of low-cost chips that make household products smart and connected… Examples of products available today include thermostats, door locks, smart power strips that monitor energy usage, and even your bathroom scale.
“Home network connectivity is becoming as basic a utility as running water and electricity were a century ago,” Espelien said. “When your home network goes down, your smart home quickly ceases to be smart.”
Beyond just making your smart devices easier to manage, Espelien says the company is using services such as cloud-based platforms to create more than just a smart home, but products that can improve the day-to-day life of people everywhere.
“Affinegy helps companies turn these smart home devices into smart services that make peoples live better,” he explained.
“For example, smart bracelets are now available that monitor your vital signs. As a product, that's interesting. But what's really compelling is to offer that as a 24/7/365 service that monitors an aging parent who lives too far away for me to check on every day. Affinegy's cloud-based platform makes such services possible.”
Simpler also spoke about what’s in store for Affinegy and she sees the company fitting in with the market needs.
“The industry needs independent software vendors to help glue things together and make them harmoniously work, and we are expert at that,” she said. “You name it, we create a glue layer of software that, under the hood, can detect all these differing environments and bring them into a common framework.”
So what’s next for Affinegy? Growth.
“We want to go from being in 33 million homes to being in 300 million homes,” Simpler said. “We are planning to go big and broad in order to do that.”
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