There is increasing evidence to suggest Ecobee is preparing to launch a smart home system of its own, to rival those by Amazon-owned Ring and Google-owned Nest.
Ecobee already produces a smart thermostat, switch, and room sensors to help control the temperature of your home, but leaked renders published on Twitter suggest the company is planning to launch a smart security camera and a door/window sensor, too.
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Adding these to the thermostat, switch and room sensors - along with Alexa integration throughout, given Amazon's investment in the company — could see Ecobee offer a complete smart home system.
The leaked renders were both published on Twitter by Dave Zatz of zatznotfunny.com. The indoor camera is expected to work in a similar way to Nest's Indoor Cam, while temperature, presence and humidity sensors could send data to the Ecobee thermostat. That way, the heating in rooms where the camera detects presence will be increased on a cold day - similar to how Ecobee's existing room sensors work.
This week, a month after the camera appeared on Twitter, Zatz posted a render of an Ecobee-branded sensor. Zatz said: "And...looks like an Ecobee contact sensor will also be joining the party!"
Contact sensors are often used to tell a smart home system the status of a window or door - in other words, whether it is open or closed. The two parts of the sensor use magnets to understand their proximity from one another, with a notification sent to your smartphone when the two halves are separated — i.e., when a door opens.
Ring, the smart home company owned by Amazon, also sells contact sensors. So too does Wyze, the budget smart home company that has just launched its Sense system, which includes two contact sensors, a motion sensor and a bridge for connecting them to your router, all for $20.
A circular element on the leaked sensor looks to offer extra functionality. This could be a motion sensor — further enhancing the device's security credentials, but also another data point for the Ecobee thermostat. Alternatively, this could be a button to temporarily disable the sensor's alarm function, for when you want to open a door or window without the system notifying you about it.
Zatz later said on Twitter, in response to a question about a potential Ecobee humidity sensor: "There is a new sensor coming too...can't tell you how it differs, but hopefully improved."
If Ecobee is indeed preparing to offer a more complete smart home system — comprising a thermostat, camera and various sensors, all with Alexa control — then it comes at an interesting time. Earlier this week, Google announced it is to make major changes to its Nest smart home system at the end of August, locking out many third parties (including IFTTT and potentially Alexa, too) from directly controlling Nest devices.
Instead, Google wants to partially lock down the system and take full control of Nest devices itself.
We could soon see a consolidation across the smart home industry, with Google Nest in one corner, and Amazon with Alexa and Ring in the other. The space in-between is up for grabs, and could be occupied by the likes of Hive, TP-Link, Wyze, and of course Ecobee.
After years of devices from hundreds of manufacturers all working together (often with a little help from a system like IFTTT) the next year or so could see some organization and consolidation, but also a degree of segregation, as giants like Amazon and Google construct their walled gardens in an apparent bid for greater customer security and privacy.
For the consumer, picking the right smart home system could be temporarily tricky. Do you go for Amazon now and hope its Alexa/Ring solution will meet all of your future needs? Do you lock yourself into Google and Nest, knowing these devices may not play well with others? Or do you opt for an alternative, like Hive, Wyze, or what Ecobee appears to be working on?
Amazon and Google have certainly asserted themselves, but there is still a lot of land up for grabs, and Ecobee knows it.