As consumers add more and more smart home devices to their houses and apartments, connecting and getting them to work together can be a challenge, even for those who know their way around some of the best smart home hubs. But what if you're not as experienced?
“The connected home needs an IT department,” says Will West, the CEO and cofounder of OliverIQ, a company that looks to combine the services of bespoke smart home systems with off-the shelf smart lights, smart locks, smart thermostats that you might purchase at Amazon or Best Buy.
While a homeowner may buy and install, say, a Nest thermostat, Philips Hue smart lights, and a Yale Assure smart lock on their own, they may not have the savvy or the desire to go through the trouble of connecting them all together with a smart home hub — thus not taking advantage of all that a smart home can offer.
That’s where OliverIQ thinks it can help. Its business model — smart home as a service — will help a homeowner create those automations, and manage all their smart home devices from a single app.
Once a homeowner signs up for the OliverIQ service, the company’s app will automatically detect any smart home devices in that person’s home, and recommend automations for all those devices. Should one of those devices stop working, OliverIQ can remotely access the system — with a homeowner’s permission — to troubleshoot any issues.
OliverIQ is making its debut at CES 2024, and says it’s working with a few ISPs who are trialing the company’s software on their routers and set top boxes, and is testing out the system during the first half of 2024. (OliverIQ also is testing out a standalone device that would connect to a router.)
If you're wondering about the name, the company gets its moniker from Oliver Wendell Holmes, and this quote in particular: "I wouldn’t give one fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give all that I possess for the simplicity on the other side of complexity."
By the end of this year, OliverIQ expects its system to be rolled out more fully; representatives would not put a price on how much the service would cost — much will be determined by the ISPs — but estimate it at $30 or less per month. And, if something needs replacing, the company can send out someone to swap it out — for an extra fee, of course.
While I’m going to reserve judgment until I see OliverIQ in action, it’s an interesting idea; even though I have dozens of smart home devices in my home — and am pretty knowledgable in how they work — I’m not using them to automate things as much as I probably could.
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Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.