R2 Studios, a home automation company from one of the original founders of Slingbox maker Sling Media, is in talks with companies such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft for a possible acquisition, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. The company hasn't released too many actual products just yet, but it did launch an Android app last year that let users wirelessly control heating and lighting systems in their homes. It also owns patents related to interfaces and controlling electronic devices. Blake Krikorian founded R2 Studios in 2011 after selling Sling Media to EchoStar back in 2007 for $380 million.
Could this be what Google needs to get Android@Home off of the ground?
Apple, Microsoft, and Google all have vested interests in winning the war over the living room, but none of the companies have really ventured into home automation technology just yet. Google did reveal the Android@Home project back in May of 2011, but since then it really hasn't done much with the initiative. Andy Rubin, head of Google's mobile division, promised earlier this year that Google would be making a big push to make sure that the "device that you carry every day is going to interact with the other devices in your home."
Tony Fadell, the famed inventor of the iPod for Apple, released the Nest last year, which is a thermostat that lets users control their homes' climate using a web-based interface or smartphone app. Nest released a revised version of its thermostat this year that is slimmer and compatible with more HVAC systems, in addition to a software update that added more features to the original Nest device.
Verizon and AT&T have also had their feet in this game, with both companies offering home automation services for a monthly subscription fee. Both carriers offer the ability to control things like lighting, heating, cooling and home security from a web interface or a mobile app.
Should Google (or Apple, or Microsoft, or even another company) acquire R2 Studios, Nest and the wireless carriers could have some real competition from a larger company in the very near future. The companies mentioned by the WSJ would not comment on the possible acquisition, nor was it revealed how much R2 Studios could sell for.