Lowe’s Iris 2.0: What you need to know.

Lowe’s and Home Depot are both predicting that home automation will be the next big trend in home DIY.  To this point, Lowe’s announced the release of their Iris 2.0 system this week and Lowe’s is hoping that home automation products make their way onto our Christmas lists this year.

What’s new?

Lowe’s Iris system 2.0 introduces a new Smart Hub that was developed with Microsoft’s Azure cloud technology.  This enables the new Iris system to offer more personalization, faster performance, and more complex features.

The core of the new system is the new Smart Hub, which now offers Bluetooth in addition to the other new features.  The new Smart Hub is not included with, and must be purchased separate from the available starter kits: the Security Pack or the Home Automation Pack.

Christmas Grinch

Unfortunately Lowe’s is not just adding features with the new update, it is also moving some behind a $10/month paywall.  The previous iteration offered multiple notification options that included sending text messages or phone calls to more than one person.  These are now part of a “premium” upgrade, as is the ability to link multiple types of devices.

Do I need Iris?

Home automation is still in it's infancy, despite existing as an idea for hundreds of years.
Home automation is still in it’s infancy, despite existing as an idea for hundreds of years.

Iris 2.0 does offer some useful solutions:

However, as useful as these solutions may be for some homes, they don’t really qualify as “home-automation”.  Unfortunately, the offerings on the home-automation front are still slightly more novel than useful.  Iris’ solution to smelly cat litter is to turn on the outlet where your air-freshener is plugged in and a ceiling fan.  Worried about busted pipes when you’re on vacation?  Neither am I, but Iris has a solution to shut your water off in this event.

Iris does support the typical home-automation features like lights that turn on automatically when you walk down the hall, or opening your blinds in the morning, but its worth mentioning that even these seemingly simple tasks fall behind Lowe’s new $10/month  “premium” paywall.  In addition to the paywall, Lowe’s decision to utilize proprietary accessories rather than provide compatibility with other products like iRobot’s Roomba or Philip’s Hue lighting makes it difficult to recommend Iris as a good first choice for people looking to automate their home.

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