Comcast brings 'home of future' to Utah broadband users

Published: Wednesday, March 7 2012 8:05 p.m. MST

Mitch Bowling, senior vice president and general manager of Comcast, talks about the benefits and details of their new home security service, called Xfinity Home, from a residential home in Sandy Wednesday, March 7, 2012.

Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

SANDY — With a few flicks of his iPhone touch screen, Mitch Bowling pulls up live, streaming video images from several rooms in his home.

With another few flicks, he turns on a light, dims it, and then turns it off again.

More flicks, and he raises and lowers the thermostat.

Bowling does all this from Sandy. But his home — the one he is controlling — is 2,000 miles away in Philadelphia.

The techno wizardry demonstration is part of Xfinity Home, a home security, temperature, lighting control, and remote home monitoring service that Comcast is rolling out to its Utah customers Thursday.

Available to Comcast’s high-speed Internet subscribers, among other things, Xfinity Home will let users remotely check on pets, monitor their homes inside or out, and send subscribers text or email alerts to let them know what’s happening at home, Bowling said.

“That home of the future that we’ve always talked about — it’s here today — this is the home of the future,” said Bowling, Comcast Senior Vice President and General Manager of New Businesses.

An assortment of wireless devices can sense when doors or windows open — or don’t, detect motion or respond to the sound of shattering glass.

Bowling said he likes to know if his children have gotten home safely from school.

A sensor placed at his front door sends information wirelessly to his Internet router. From his Xfinity Home Internet webpage, he personalized the system to send an alert if the front door does not open between 3:15 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. on school days.

Others use the service to monitor aging parents from across the country, check on pets remotely, or know when there’s an intruder.

A wireless digital thermostat and light switch devices can be set to an automated schedule, or adjusted manually via iPhone or iPad apps, over the Internet, or from an in-home touch screen.

The in-home screen, designed to be left out on a kitchen counter or elsewhere, also gives quick access to weather, news, sports scores or other information, Bowling said.

“It really makes it something that you check multiple times a day.”

An app for Android-based devices should be available soon, he said.

Comcast is hoping that the new service — and the penchant of many Americans to keep in constant contact — will add a fourth major revenue stream to its cable TV, Internet broadband and voice services, he said.

Other major cable providers such as TimeWarner and Cox Cable are ramping up similar services in their cable areas. Comcast first set up Xfinity Home in Houston in 2010, and plans to have it available in all its service areas this year, Bowling said.

Subscribers are charged around $30 to $45 a month, depending on service level, and an installation fee is currently $199. In addition, subscribers purchase each indoor or outdoor security camera they want to use in their home for $100 to $150.

Streaming video images are encrypted and can only be viewed by the individual customer, Bowling said. The images only get saved to Comcast servers for later viewing when a set event occurs or if an alarm goes off.   

E-mail: lbrubaker@desnews.com

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