SmartThings, a company that makes a platform manufacturers can build into to make “smart” every day objects like Internet-connected light bulbs, door locks, and alarm systems, announced today it has raised $US12.5 million in Series A funding from Greylock Partners and Highland Capital Partners.
The series A round adds to the $US3 million seed round the startup raised from First Round Capital, SV Angel, Lerer Ventures, Max Levchin, Start Fund (by Yuri Milner), A-Grade, David Tisch, and CrunchFund.
SmartThings is one of a bunch of companies working on bringing the “Internet Of Things” — that buzzy industry term that describes every day objects that can be controlled over the Internet.
SmartThings isn’t one product, but a platform app developers and manufacturers can build into. All your SmartThings-powered gadgets in your home can talk to each other via the SmartThings hub, a small white box that looks a lot like a normal WiFi router. Using the SmartThings app on your smartphone, you can control all those gizmos in your house. And you can get as specific as you’d like, telling your coffee pot only to turn on if a sensor in your bedroom detects you getting out of bed, for example.
In an interview with Business Insider, SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson said the company plans to use its new round to increase distribution and enhance its product. Right now you can only buy a SmartThings kit, which includes the SmartThings hub plus a few other standard connected gadgets like a motion sensor, on Amazon or through the SmartThings site directly.
Hawkinson also hinted at a new product from SmartThings in the coming months, but wouldn’t get more specific about it beyond saying that it’d be more consumer friendly than its current offering.
You should also take today’s announcement as a hint into what the future of consumer electronics looks like. We already have Web-connected tablets, computers, and phones, but many think the next several billion online devices will be everyday objects in your home.
But there’s a challenge here, and there are already two schools of thoughts emerging in the Internet of Things space. The first is a “closed” platform, akin to Apple’s iOS operating system for the iPhone and iPad. That’s best exemplified by Nest, a company that makes smart thermostats and smoke detectors. Nest’s devices can talk to each other, but not necessarily other connected devices in your home. (However, Nest did recently announce it would allow developers to build into its platform.)
The second school of thought is an “open” platform like Google’s Android operating system for smartphones and tablets. That’s what SmartThings is. Hawkinson’s team wants anyone from app developers to hardware manufactures to build into its platform.
So is there room for both? Hawkinson says there is. And in SmartThings’ case, he will focus a lot of the software side, making it easy for you to control all the connected stuff in your home.
“I think there’s room for both and there’s certainly room for people building apps on our platform and to have their own native apps,” Hawkinson said. “I think there will be one central interface like we’re building. There are all these new things being built that don’t have a standard interface yet.”
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