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The OliverIQ platform aims to unify various DIY and other IoT devices onto a single app, enabling integrators to service vast numbers of smart homes more efficiently.

2.14.24 – SIW – Paul Rothman

Launched at CES 2024, OliverIQ is looking to unify all IoT smart home devices under a single app, and they are on the hunt for residential integrators who can help make it happen

This article originally appeared as part of the industry’s ONLY full CES show coverage in the February 2024 issue of Security Business magazine. Don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter if you share it.

LAS VEGAS – Founded in 2003 by Eric Smith, Will West, and Mark Morgan, Control4 debuted at the 2004 CEDIA Expo home technology trade show and released its first products in May 2005, as an early entrant in the home automation market. Twenty years later, Control4 is in more than half a million homes.

Glen Mella was also there from the beginning, and as President and COO until 2011, he saw the company rise to prominence, leading to its eventual IPO in 2013, and later, its sale to SnapAV in 2019.

More than a decade after Smith, West and Mella parted ways as business partners, the three have come together again in the smart home industry, and unveiled their new venture, OliverIQ at CES 2024.

Control4's 'three amigos' - Glen Mella, Will West and Eric Smith - are together again in the home automation space, with a new Smart Home as a Service concept.
Control4’s “three amigos” – Glen Mella, Will West and Eric Smith – are together again in the home automation space, with a new Smart Home as a Service concept.

“We were kind of ‘the three amigos,’ and we built a nice business,” Mella recalls of the Control4 days. “We started by creating an alternative to Crestron and AMX. Most people, at least 20 years ago, were still intimidated by having five remotes on their coffee table. So we solved that problem with one remote – then somebody could push play on the movie, dim the lights, turn on the gas fireplace, set the thermostat, and sit back and enjoy. That was how that company was born.”

“We all were able to benefit [from the sale] of a successful company, and we went off and did different things,” Mella continues. “I have been running a couple different companies. Will and Eric were running a healthcare company together; but we always had in the back of our minds nobody has truly brought the smart home concept to 90-plus percent of the homes out there.”

Thus, in 2024, OliverIQ was born. The company is built on a new, “Smart Home as a Service” (SHaaS) platform for managing the connected home.


The App Backbone

SHaaS starts with a single app, where consumers, installers, and integrators can quickly and easily integrate, control, and manage diverse smart devices from many manufacturers.

Mella points out that a typical smart home owner’s phone contains several apps to control everything from thermostats, to sprinklers, smart speakers, routers, TVs, garage doors, smart locks – the list goes on and on. By unifying all of these functions under a single app, it obviously gives the homeowner more convenient control, but more importantly for residential integrators, it enables them to offer this unification as a paid, recurring subscription service to their customers. 

“We have developed a consumer-facing app, but it is also a platform that allows what we call a primary service provider – an integrator – to service large numbers of homes at scale. This isn’t really a fit for the integrators who only does 20 high-end homes a year. That’s a good business, but it is well served by Control4, Savant, Crestron, and others.”

The SHaaS model addresses the complexities and maintenance challenges typically associated with smart home setups. Consumers no longer need to navigate the cumbersome process of integrating multiple devices or managing ongoing maintenance. The app handles everything from initial setup, automation, software updates, to troubleshooting.

The average consumer has so many IoT control apps that it can be difficult to manage them all. The OliverIQ app (lower left) aims to consolidate all of them into one.
The average consumer has so many IoT control apps that it can be difficult to manage them all. The OliverIQ app (lower left) aims to consolidate all of them into one.

More Devices Means Greater Demand for Unification

The DIY smart home sector is both the largest and the most troubled. Consumers are overwhelmed with the sheer number of connected devices in their homes, each requiring its own distinct application for management. Managing DIY connected devices is an annoyance for them and vastly complicates the jobs of residential integrators.

This unification concept is not new; in fact, residential integrators know that most major home alarm system players have attempted to enable this sort of one-stop integration. Mella says the problem is they don’t go deep enough into the smart home. 

“A lot of [security players] start with monitored security, and then add cameras, door locks, dimmers, thermostats, and so on, but it is still not whole-home automation in the way that Crestron would say they do, or Control4. It is pretty good, but what has been happening in the past 10 years is that a bunch of manufacturers have been making IoT devices. They call it smart home, but it’s really do-it-yourself. Today, if you use Samsung SmartThings or Apple HomeKit or Google Home, when you run into an issue with a third-party product and you go to the website, it says go talk to the manufacturer. In other words, ‘knock yourself out and good luck.’”

Mella points out that the average consumer has trouble programming the skills on an Alexa device to control lights, thermostats, doorbells, etc. “It may not surprise you that four out of five people that hang a Nest thermostat and a Ring doorbell pay to have them to be professionally installed,” he says.

“Eric was just out there at our CES booth, and he asked the audience: How many of you have an HVAC system, a plumbing system, or an electrical system in your house? Everybody raised their hand. The he asked: How many of you do all that maintenance yourself, and nobody raised their hand. So why would you think that a consumer would be able to control all the electronic, all the smart internet enabled electronic devices by themselves?”

OliverIQ is targeting the rest of the world that wants the benefits of safety and security, comfort and convenience, energy savings, effortless entertainment, elderly aging in place, and more. “Consumers care about benefits – they don’t care if it is Matter, Thread, Zigbee, Z-Wave, they just want it to work,” Mella says.

Redefining the Role of the Residential Integrator

Fading are the days a residential integrator puts an alarm panel in a closet and moves to the next job. “One thing we learned in the Commercial Integrator channel is those integrators were amazingly influential in their homeowners lives. If a customer was upgrading their home with an LED gas fireplace, they would call their Control4 dealer and ask for advice on which one to buy. Integrators have that kind of influence, and where this is going, we call that person ‘the IT department for the home.’”

Mella says an integrator – what his team calls a primary service provider (PSP) – in that position becomes incredibly influential, provided they have a platform that can help the average smart homeowner. Especially with DIY and IoT products, service has always been the crucial missing piece for a successful smart home experience.

“In the connected home, you don’t always know why something goes offline. It could literally just be the batteries in a smart door lock need to be replaced, or it could be a network issue, or it could be that something is just old and it is done. Who do you think they call? They call the PSP, the one throat to choke.”

Mella says the platform makes sense for a typical alarm dealer who wants to branch out into smart home. “The sell for us is we have a platform that is end-to-end, for not only a great consumer experience that’s easy to learn and easy to use and operate, but also for an integrator.”

Logistically, OliverIQ plans to wholesale the app and software to its PSP partners. Depending on the integrator’s business model, options range up to unlimited connected devices, unlimited support, and remote monitored security – provided by a wholesale central station they have already partnered with – for 30 dollars a month. The app can be OliverIQ, or it can be rebranded to the residential integrator’s company, or even the home builder. 

What kind of integrators should this appeal to? “We are interested in ones who believe in scale,” Mella explains. “If an integrator comes to us and says they just landed a deal with the largest home builder in the Southwest, and they are going to do 1,200 homes – that is our sweet spot. We are already talking to a number of the top 40 security providers, but we are very interested in all security integrators at least taking a look at us. We want to meet with as many of them as we can.”

Paul Rothman is Editor-in-Chief of Security Business magazine. Email him your comments and questions at prothman@securitybusinessmag.com. Access the current issue, full archives, and apply for a free subscription at www.securitybusinessmag.com