Intamac was probably one of the least consumer-facing appointments we had at last week's CES conference in Las Vegas -- the company develops and supports home monitoring systems, mostly for other businesses (security companies and telecommunications companies) rather than actual consumers. But it was still an interesting meeting, and if nothing else, showed us just how much the iPhone has changed all kinds of businesses around the world.
Intamac's home monitoring systems are used for all kinds of purposes -- not only does it have products that can monitor video or motion, but it's developed ways to remotely monitor a home's temperatures and energy usage as well, and it uses all of those devices for things like making sure an elderly relative is moving around OK, or that guests are staying out of restricted areas. The systems can even do things like text-to-speech, or contact you on email or social networks when something happens at the house.
All of these things are controlled via Intamac's system, which was originally designed to work with a browser-based app. But recently, the company released an iPhone app, and the representative told me this was a sea change in the way their business has worked. Customers are using the iPhone app (and other smartphone apps) in droves, and what Intamac is seeing is that usage of the iPhone app is actually determining company strategy these days. "This is certainly driving us," they said.
The website is widget-based, allowing security and monitoring providers to sell services to clients in chunks -- start with the security features, and then add in energy monitoring features or controllers. The iPhone app's design is also widget-based, but the touchscreen allows for more tactile controls and a different layout. And Intamac told me that the website is actually being redesigned nowadays, just because the feedback has been so good from the iPhone app. "We're planning to convert the website to replicate the mobile app," they said.
The company is also looking at location-based services in the future. For example, if your home can see your mobile phone's location, and knows that when you're getting close after being away for a while, it should turn on the heat and lights, Intamac's services will be able to do that. In a situation like that, you wouldn't even have to set or disarm a security system -- your home would just automatically know when you were away and for how long.
Finally, the app is a free download, and Intamac says that in itself has been a solid selling point for its services. "Freemium" is a word that standard iPhone developers have been using for a while, but even the Intamac rep used it, saying that "if you want hundreds of thousands of customers rather than just thousands, you have to give it away." Of course, the app doesn't do anything without the hardware and the cloud-based subscription needed (which again are sold from business to business before reaching consumers), but it's interesting to hear that even tangential industries are being affected by Apple's iPhone.