Icontrol launches incubator, partnership with Indiegogo for smart home gadgets

Crowdfunding site Indiegogo has signed a partnership with smart home integrator Icontrol to create a program that will help select connected hardware companies featured on the site get Icontrol’s help and eventual certification that their devices will work with Icontrol’s OpenHome platform. Icontrol calls the program OpenHome Labs and says it’s an incubator, although it seems less constrained by any sort of rigid time frame associated with an incubator program.

However, it seems promising, and launches with three companies participating: Playtabase, Bttn and the Zen thermostat, which I wrote about last week and is pictured above.

The idea is that the startups who want to work with [company]Icontrol[/company] will apply and, if selected, will work with a team of mentors at OpenHome Labs who will help them with design, manufacturing, meeting partners and whatever else the young company needs. In return, the hardware startup must seek certification through iControl’s OpenHome program after a successful crowdfunding.


That means the startup’s device would work either with a Zigbee radio or via Wi-Fi with Icontrol’s existing platform. In turn, they might find their product picked up for sale by a large cable provider or even tied to the Peq home hub system that is now sold in Best Buy stores.

Jason Domangue, VP of Ecosystem Development with Icontrol, said that the company has a relationship and familiarity with Indiegogo companies– earlier this year it bought home security startup Piper, which had raised funds on [company]Indiegogo[/company]. And with the current line up of launch partners, we might even see hints that Icontrol is going to move beyond Zigbee.

[company]Playtabase[/company], which makes the Reemo gesture-based user interface system that I covered in May, relies on Bluetooth, while Bttn uses access to Wi-Fi and a cloud back end to offer people a programmable button that they can press to control aspects of their home. It’s actually a neat device, because you can program it to do different things based on time of day or other cues. So it seems that while Icontrol is focused on Zigbee today, it’s likely to branch out to other cloud services and radios. Domangue agreed when I asked about supporting other popular devices like Hue lights or Nest.

Many pundits view the internet of things as a decidedly grassroots phenomenon, where founders with bright ideas for a connected product ply their vision on crowdfunding sites and attract a mass market. If this vision holds true, then Icontrol’s plans make considerable sense. I’ve seen a gradual realization among larger companies in everything from semiconductors to large retailers that they should turn to crowdfunding to find the next big thing.

So with this partnership and OpenHome Labs, Indiegogo gets to point startups toward a credible partner that they tap, while Icontrol gets to see the up-and-coming devices launching on Indiegogo. And for those who don’t need crowdfunding, but are interested, Icontrol wants to hear from you too. Both Icontrol’s CEO and Indiegogo’s hardware expert Kate Drane will be at Structure Connect on October 21 and 22 in San Francisco, giving you just one more reason to show up.