Late last year, it was reported that Microsoft, Apple and Google were all speaking to id8 Group R2 Studios Inc. about a potential acquisition of the startup, and now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft has indeed sealed the deal. R2 is a home automation and entertainment media startup, founded by Blake Krikorian, former founder of Sling Media. Microsoft hopes to use the startup’s resources, tech and personnel to enhance its Xbox division.
R2 released a product called R2 Control for Crestron that allows it to control home automation systems, managing audio visual and home theatre equipment, lighting, thermostats, security and other connected home devices on Android phones and tablets both at home and remotely. The group holds patents for controlling electronic devices as well as providing the control app for Android, which will be acquired by Microsoft. Krikorian and “a small team” will join Microsoft as employees as part of the deal.
Microsoft could just be buying the company to extend its existing plans to make the Xbox the hub of the family entertainment center, but as I suggested in a previous post, the opportunity is there for Redmond to now build connected home control directly into their software platforms. Software that can control home automation and remote triggering of in-home events, built into Windows on mobile, desktop and into Xbox, could go a long way toward extending the paradigm of the constantly connected mobile consumer. I suspect the Internet of things will be a strong theme at next week’s CES, and I think this is a good sign that the big players are starting to mobilize to make sure this is a space they can claim ownership of, too.