Time Warner Cable is the latest company to head to Kansas City to try out the experimental technology that is expected to sweep the nation in the next few years — this time with its IntelligentHome, a model of emerging smart-home technology.
The Time Warner house was opened this week with a variety of digital amenities that Time Warner hopes to impress consumers with, so that the Internet service provider can become even more involved with its customers' lives.
The features of the IntelligentHome are not that innovative in themselves. The most interesting part about the new home is that it is being offered not by a manufacturer or exclusive installer, but by the company that would be providing the Internet juice that powers the whole system.
A page that features diagrams and an interactive model of the house explains the potential features that those who are following smart home trends have seen before.
Webcams, security systems, digital thermostats, customizable lightbulbs and door sensors are all able to be controlled from a smartphone app or a website, accessible from any Internet-connected computer.
One of the likely reasons that Time Warner picked the otherwise unusual choice of Kansas City is that so did another recent technological immigrant to the area, who has been causing Time Warner some trouble lately: Google.
Google chose Kansas City, Kan. as the location for its experimental Google Fiber project. The $28 billion fiber-optic Internet project is taking on inert Internet providers directly, by offering customers in the experimental area access to Internet choices that are unprecedented in the U.S.
Customers can pay a one-time $300 construction fee, or break it up into 12 $25 monthly payments, and receive a 5 Mbps Internet connection for free. The construction fee is waived if the customer opts into one of the other two plans, $70 per month for a 1 Gbps connection or $120 per month for the 1 Gbps connection and a competing TV service that offers most of the same content as Time Warner's cable offerings, with a few Google gadgets thrown in –– Google Nexus 7 tablet, a TV box and network storage drives, as well as 1 TB free cloud storage.
But Google hasn't offered anyone the opportunity to control light switches and thermostats yet, which is why Time Warner is trying to get out ahead of its competition.