Prodea Systems today announced the general availability of its Residential Operating System (ROS) in the US. The platform, which promises to deliver a consistent user experience across each and every connected household device from phones and tablets to Wi-Fi thermostats, is already in use by seven service providers across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
Prodea is one of the older companies dedicated to the smart home space, dating its roots all the way back to 2006, a year before Apple set off the mobile revolution with the launch of the very first iPhone. Nest Labs, the hugely successful connected appliance maker that was acquired by Google in January for a massive $3.2 billion, only hit the scene three years later in 2010.
“Since 2006 – even before the advent of smart devices and personal mobility of information content – we had a clear vision based on the belief that everything works better when everything works together,” said Prodea co-founder and chief executive Anousheh Ansari, who became the world’s first female private space explorer shortly after her company’s launch. She’s also a serial entrepreneur, having previously established Telecom Technologies, a softswitch firm that eventually merged with Sonus Networks in 2000 as part of a $1.2 billion deal.
“It was time for technology to do the same. ROS is a delivery agent for the connected home and the rapidly evolving Internet of Things. It was no easy task to accomplish what we have done which is why it has taken us so long to get it right. In many respects, it was kind of like rocket science,” Ansari said.
ROS is the culmination of $100 million in funding and 1.5 million person-hours of work by developers, according to Prodea, an effort that produced 16 patents and another eight pending. The platform utilizes a homegrown “digital language” to allow for interaction between devices and enable a broad range of use cases ranging from home security through energy management to health tracking. The firm says that it can quickly tailor the solution to the specific needs of its customers and the local market conditions in which they operate to provide further differentiation.
Crossing the pond, meeting new rivals
Prodea boasts two North American launch customers: Canal SUR, one of the largest cable networks of Latin American content; and Fort Capital, a Miami-based private real estate investment company. The firm hopes that its technology will foster a new breed of emerging service providers it defines as “entities that aren’t from the traditional telco or cable space but seek to broaden their business by delivering services to homes and businesses”.
Yet Prodea faces competition even before it hit US soil. Established software providers like iControl have already shored up top tier utility and service brands like Comcast, Time Warner and ADT. These utilities are key to driving mainstream adoption of smart home technology in the US, as their familiar brand names and bundled service tactics deliver home automation alongside cable, internet and home security packages.
Prodea recognizes the challenges with international expansion, and is seeking out opportunity with other industries, like Fort Capital. Builders in the real estate market are increasingly looking to incorporate connected technology into the construction process as well as the finished products, driving up property value for homes and offices that come with automated solutions.
“We’re not ruling out the traditional market opportunities, explains Ansari. “Some have already made bets and changed them, or pulled back. It comes down to having an alignment of a vision. Some traditional vendors are very focused on security. The first thing we have to do is have an aligned vision with potential clients.”
The difference between Prodea and its competitors is that Prodea is taking a horizontal approach to its platform, future-proofing it to adapt to future devices and protocols. This agnostic approach means that Prodea isn’t specializing in a vertical like security or lighting, so clients aren’t limited in the types of smart home services they’d like to offer.