Control4 Scoops Up Ihiji To Help Integrators Remotely Manage Smart Homes

Smart home company Control4 acquired Ihiji to help its network of integrators better remotely manage, monitor and upgrade the smart products in their customers' homes.

Control4, which offers automation and networking systems for homes and businesses, will integrate Ihiji's flagship product, Invision, so that the combined platform will operate with more than 2,000 third-party products.

"If you take the deep product integration we have today with our [BakPak] platform, and combine that with Ihiji, we can now build a tool and platform that is more comprehensive and robust for our integrators," said Brad Hintze, senior director of product marketing at Draper, Utah-based Control4.

[Related: 10 IoT Vendors To Watch In 2018]

In 2016, Control4 acquired Pakedge so that the company could roll out networking devices and software tuned and tailored for IoT applications, and its consequent BakPak platform allowed integrators to remotely manage devices in the home. Now, Ihiji's Invision platform will help extend BakPak's remote management services so they can work with more third-party products. 

Smart homes have become an increasingly big opportunity for integrators – in the past 10 years, Control4 has seen demand shoot beyond luxury homes to regular homes and commercial buildings, said Hintze.

Chris Compton, founder of Smart Home HQ, a Newport, Ky.-based integrator specializing in home automation, said the smart home market is a wide-open opportunity.

"It's the peace of mind this [connected home] technology provides that will allow its success long term," said Compton. "It really is an exciting time in this space, and I look forward to the innovation and improvements that will be rapidly made as we shape this space."

Control4 partners with over 5,500 custom integrators and distributors that take its automation platform, work with customers to design a smart home setup, and install the platform, which includes a cloud-controlled controller unit and complementary mobile app, to connect an array of controls.

The average customer's home has around 40 connected devices – including lights, thermostats, switches, security cameras or door locks, said Hintze – and while integrators play a key role in connecting these products, the real opportunity has come from remotely monitoring, rebooting and upgrading them.

Austin, Texas-based Ihiji provides management services for technical integrators servicing connected home customers. The company's platform integrates with an array of manufacturers including Dell, Cisco Systems, Belkin, Sony and Yamaha, and these integrations are "central to a new unified management platform," said Hintze.

In addition to benefiting from the remote management platform's new integrations with more third-party products, integrators can save valuable time and money by cutting back on-site visits. According to Control4's Hintze, integrators who have started remotely monitoring smart homes have reduced their on-site visits by two visits per week.

According to Control4, the Ihiji product development and support teams are now part of Control4 and are working within the company’s networking group to continue supporting existing Ihiji dealers, and to deliver the new unified management platform later this year.The joint team already is developing the unified cloud-based service platform, which will be made available in phases to all Control4 and Ihiji dealers and their end customers later in the year.

"Control4 can provide a set of unified cloud-based services to our dealers to securely and efficiently monitor end-customer systems," said Control4 CEO Martin Plaehn in a statement. "Dealers will receive alerts when performance concerns are detected; they can then remotely identify the root cause and initiate resolution actions, all without being on-premise. This will improve homeowner satisfaction through prompt and pre-emptive service, in a time-saving and cost-effective manner."

The price of the acquisition, which closed in December, was not disclosed, but "is not expected to contribute material direct revenue in 2018," according to Control4.

"This upcoming year, we're dedicated to strengthening our product lineup for our integrators, and we want to get every dealer using this platform for every project," said Hintze.

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