Google bought the innovative home products maker Nest for $3.2 billion earlier this year. Not to be outdone, Microsoft is trying to get into the home automation market with a product of its own. Microsoft does not have any such products of its own yet, even though they bought the home automation startup R2 Studios. R2 Studios, was a startup that focused on home entertainment and home automation but it seems Microsoft has been holding back on developing anything for that niche, until now.

The Redmond based company has started a partnership with home automation company Insteon. Microsoft and Insteon announced that an enhanced version of the Insteon app will be available on Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 and with it the launch of their new home automation product.

Here are some features of the Insteon app:

  • Full screen video feeds which you can use to check on what’s happening at home.
  • A visitor mode to give limited control to guests.
  • Insteon App notifications can appear on a live tile.

In addition to this, standalone devices are planned to be available for sale in the Windows Store. These devices include things like an LED bulb, a WiFi Camera, and a leak sensor for $30 – $80. Kits for this system start at the price of $200.

Microsoft will have to be careful about the price since they are competing with well established rivals like Nest and Phillips in this niche. Nest does not offer a lot of products but the products that they do offer are high quality, simple in design, and easy to use. Phillips Hue is good but it only has an iPhone and iPad application to configure the devices.

Nest Products make use of wifi to talk to each other while Insteon’s system uses RF frequency instead. It also uses the home’s existing power wiring to communicate to the devices. This is a very interesting use of the Powerline networking technology.

The app is already in the Windows Store and the devices should be available on July 1st. The package should contain plenty of demos and other material to help you set it up.

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