6: Innovative smart locks in an apartment building near you
Level Home's new acquisition highlights some interesting layers of the smart home industry
From Brian Heater at TechCrunch on Wednesday, 11/10:
Level Home today announced that it’s acquiring Dwelo, news that arrives as the former also announces a Series C north of $100 million, led by Cox Communications and featuring Walmart. The round brings Level’s funding up to $171 million to date. The acquisition is the company’s first.
There are a number of things that are interesting to me about this acquisition. First is that Level Home, a company making smart locks, has $171 million in venture funding, $71 million of which was already there before this deal. Obviously, the large increase was, in part, to make this acquisition possible. The other part is where the money coming from. Walmart listed as an investor makes some sense as they could potentially sell smart locks and also partner on deliveries. Cox Communication leading the investment leads me down a bit of a tangent...
Cable Companies in Smart Homes
Cox Communications is a large television and internet provider here in the United States. It's easy to forget how large American cable companies are in the smart home space. Both Cox and their competitor Comcast offer smart home and security equipment that you can rent at a monthly rate in combination with TV and Internet service. Given the scale of these companies and the fact that the upfront cost usually isn't that high, they represent a lot of users. Back in 2017, Comcast Xfinity reported that their home division was crossing 1,000,000 users, and in 2018, they turned their XFi internet boxes into smart home hubs in 15 million homes. Including cutting-edge smart locks in a future version of Cox's Homelife program, or at least ensuring compatibility, is almost certainly an important strategic part of this investment for Cox.
More from TechCrunch:
The brand merger looks likely to play out as a kind of vertical integration, likely bundling Level Locks as part of Dwelo’s landlord-focused product offering. Apartment buildings are a local step for a growing smart lock company in a crowded space. These sorts of devices have more traditionally been focused on home owners, who have to deal with less red tape upon installation.
In addition to offering up the amenities of the latest connected home products, building owners no doubt have their own reasons for wanting remote control over door locks.
There is, no doubt, a benefit to landlords and residents in being able to lock and unlock doors, and maybe control things like thermostats. These are luxuries often only available to people who own their property. In competitive rental areas, I could see smart home tech being another differentiating factor when choosing where to live.
While I haven't used a Level Lock yet (my front door has some issues working with any smart lock), I've always been impressed by Level Home's innovation in the area. For those who aren't familiar, they first debuted with a smart lock small enough to fit inside your existing lock. Then they expanded to creating the whole lock. But unlike many smart locks, it looks a lot like a normal lock instead of a tech product on your door.
As long as this acquisition of a new business doesn't distract too much from Level Home shipping locks to consumers, I think it sounds like a great move. It will also give them a lot of stress testing when renters potentially use Level locks. Let’s just hope that some of this venture money goes to producing a new version of the Level Bolt that supports Thread instead of Bluetooth.
This week I talked about my experience setting up and using Nanoleaf Lines. These are a new addition to colored wall lighting that turns the concept around by shining the light on the wall with an elevated light strip. These might be the best colored-wall lighting available, but you should be careful to avoid some key mistakes when installing and know what they are like to use with HomeKit.
Pre-order Nanoleaf Lines today: https://go.nanoleaf.me/ericwelander
Thanks to Conor Butkovic who pointed out that if I turn off the scene sink in the Nanoleaf app under More > Settings > Scene Sync it won’t create all those scenes in HomeKit. Until I was told so, it wasn’t completely clear to me that the switch being off would actually stop adding those scenes to HomeKit.
Around the web
I'm a big fan of Ben Thompson and his website, newsletter, and podcasts. I subscribe to them all. I really enjoyed his free article this week on Microsoft and the Metaverse. In it, Ben lays out some interesting ideas of why VR and the metaverse might come to your work life before it comes to your personal life. I do still think Apple has more of a compelling chance with AR and VR in this space given their ability to make great hardware and software experiences. People might want to actually see the world around them at the same time, which is where augmented reality (AR), comes into play. Read the article >
Speaking of the real world...
Facebook recently rebranded to be called Meta. Will we have VR rooms in our homes in the future? That's probably a topic for another newsletter. But once you're done reading every single word of this newsletter, Iceland wants to remind you that there's a real, physical world around you in this hilarious play on the Mata announcement.
This isn't the first example of a movie in theaters coming to rental quickly or skipping theaters altogether, but it's a big franchise to do so. The fast availability of this rental wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for the COVID-19 pandemic. $19.99 US dollars is expensive, but it's potentially less than two tickets to see the same movie in theaters. Check it out on iTunes >