AT&T has opened its Digital Life home-automation and security offering up to a number of third-party device makers, which will now be able to connect their devices via Digital Life’s central controller. There are four initial partners, with products spanning connected lighting, window shades, smart TVs, and healthcare.
Transitioning to a platform
By allowing third-party devices to work on the Digital Life app, AT&T is making it easier for consumers to build their connected home to their own specifications, as well as expanding beyond the areas of home automation and security on which the product was initially built.
One key disadvantage of connected devices is their lack of interoperability, meaning that each device connects to its own cloud and requires a separate app to operate. Digital Life’s innovation at launch was to address this by supporting a number of different protocols, including Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, and cellular, making all devices sold by AT&T controllable from a single app or remote. By adding support for products from Lutron, Samsung, Qualcomm Life, and LG, AT&T has taken an additional step toward making the connected home easy to implement and market to its customers.
The other notable aspect of this announcement is in how it expands the uses of the connected home hub into new use cases and with wearable devices. Samsung’s newest Wi-Fi IP camera can now be used for home monitoring, for example, and Samsung has created a prototype app on its Samsung Gear S smartwatch that enables users to receive Digital Life notifications.
Qualcomm Life’s 2net platform and hub now connects to Digital Life, enabling customers to track health metrics such as blood pressure and weight and better manage their own health. LG’s WebOS smart TVs, meanwhile, can use their AllJoyn capabilities to display notifications and alerts on the TV screen via the Digital Life system, thereby connecting AT&T’s platform with Qualcomm’s and connecting Digital Life with even more connected devices.
Taking a more open approach to Digital Life’s ecosystem will be crucial to improving mass-market adoption, so this first set of agreements with device partners is a welcome first step, as was the announcement of AT&T’s deal to license the Digital Life platform to Telefonica. The challenge for AT&T will be to continue expanding in such a way that it can maintain control over the user experience, without frustrating users with a lack of choice in devices that can be added to their home network. For instance, it will be interesting to see whether other AllJoyn-enabled smart TVs (or other devices) are added to Digital Life in the coming year.
AllJoyn: A common language to enable the Internet of Things, TE0004-000985 (July 2014)
Connected Home: AT&T Digital Life builds on security monitoring to break into home automation, TE0001-000887 (October 2014)
Francesco Radicati, Senior Analyst, Digital Services