INSTEON Taps Microsoft Cortana for Windows Phone 8.1 Home Automation App

IoT player INSTEON leverages Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant for a new Windows Phone 8.1 home automation app.

Mobile app dev

WASHINGTON, D.C. — INSTEON, a provider of home automation and control technology, is continuing to augment the capabilities of its Windows 8.1 Phone app by integrating Microsoft's Cortana technology with its home automation solutions.

Cortana, Microsoft's proactive digital assistant, will enable users to control INSTEON smart products and monitor the home by just speaking to Cortana, making life in the connected home easier than ever. This news comes soon after INSTEON announced availability of its products in Microsoft retail stores across the U.S.

The news also comes as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Steve Clayton, chief storyteller at Microsoft, demonstrated the Internet of things (IoT) capabilities of the Microsoft platform at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2014 here.

"We all know, we talked about the fact that there are going to be 200-plus billion sensors," Nadella said during his keynote at WPC. "And when you really think about it, it's really the Internet of Your Things, right?"

Many of those "things" in IoT are located in the home, particularly the connected home.

Cortana is Microsoft's intelligent assistant that uses natural language understanding and text to respond to users' inquiries, launch applications and set and send reminders. The new digital assistant also offers proactive suggestions, providing useful recommendations as she gets to know each unique user. Integrating Cortana with INSTEON products will enable users to accomplish a variety of tasks by simply speaking to Cortana.

For example, users can: Ask Cortana to activate the lights for movie time based on specially created scenes by saying "INSTEON, turn on 'Movie Time.'" Or they could instruct the thermostat to reduce the temperature to ensure that the house is cool upon returning home from work by saying "INSTEON, adjust 'Living Room Thermostat' temperature down." Or they could tell Cortana that they're ready for bed by saying, "INSTEON, turn off all of the lights."

"Using Cortana to control our products is the next logical step as our relationship with Microsoft continues to evolve," said Joe Dada, CEO of INSTEON, in a statement. "Our long-term goal is to give users complete autonomy over their homes and smart products. Adding Cortana into the mix is just another way that we can make people's lives easier."

Cortana will be available in the INSTEON Windows Phone app in the upcoming months.

"For an opportunity like Internet of things, because I think that this is one of those opportunities over the next 10 years, will play out in a pretty big way," Nadella said. "You can think of this as the new class of tier-one applications that are going to be born in the cloud, where people are going to rendezvous their data from their field devices, reason over it, and the business model that you can have, those models that got created, you now have a continuous model of upgrading and improving that model."

INSTEON's dual-band technology uses both the existing wires (power line) in the home and radio-frequency (RF) communication instead of relying on spotty Wi-Fi connections and routers, which dictate where smart devices must be placed to work properly. By making every networked device talk to each other via RF and the power line, INSTEON says it eliminates the need for custom wiring and ensures that every device is always connected. Adding remote control and automation to everything from home monitoring to lighting, INSTEON's dual-band network and devices allow users to manage their home or office in many variations.