Ahead of SXSW, Comcast buys Austin-based home-security developer

Comcast's Xfinity Home platform was designed by IControl, which the company bought on Wednesday. The system can control locks, cameras, thermostats, and sensors.

The timing couldn’t have been better for Comcast’s official takeover this week of home-security platform maker Icontrol.

Comcast is part of the Philadelphia tech, creative, and civic-drumbeating contingent participating in the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference in Austin, Texas, starting on Friday. Now, Comcast execs making the trip will also get to visit and talk about their plans with Icontrol. The systems developer is based in Austin and is sure to see an uptick in activity and investment with Comcast in charge.

The acquisition gives Comcast the ability to establish an Internet of Things [IoT] Center of Excellence in Austin, said Daniel Herscovici, Comcast senior VP and general manager, Xfinity Home, when the deal was announced on Wednesday. “This will be a key hub where our engineers and developers will design innovations to support our various IoT businesses. There are many local, talented engineers in Austin and we are excited to welcome them to Comcast" so they can work closely with other company teams in Philadelphia, Silicon Valley, and across the country.

Icontrol Networks’ claim to fame, and the bulk of its business and intellectual property, is its connected home-security management system, which Comcast has been using for its Xfinity Home monitoring business. Icontrol’s Converge platform powers the subscriber’s dedicated touch-control panel and its network backbone, linking and monitoring all the connected devices, such as sensors, door locks, thermostats, and cameras. In collaboration with Comcast engineers, Icontrol developed the Xfinity Home App on X1 that invites customers to manage and monitor their home systems “from the biggest screen in their house.”

The same Converge platform also pilots several other multiple-service operator (MSO) companies’ smart-home businesses, including Time Warner Cable’s Intelligent Home, Cox’s Homelife, and “leading MSOs in Australia, Canada [Rogers Smart Home Monitoring], and Japan,” Herscovici said. Comcast now aims to expand that domestic and international business as it “accelerates the development of new Icontrol services and features,” offering an unbranded “white box” version of Converge to other MSOs just as it does with the X1 interactive TV operating platform that it developed in-house.