Yonomi, already a firm favorite here at The Ambient, is about to become a much bigger player in the smart home world... and possibly even beyond it.
The startup behind the cloud-based hub, which uses a smartphone as a gateway to control a vast array of smart home devices, was recently acquired by Allegion - parent of smart home lock specialist Schlage.
Known for the Yonomi app, which works on iOS or Android, and gives users control over devices from more than 20 smart home brands, the Yonomi Integrations platform is perhaps the thing that Allegion was most excited about with regards to getting the brand in-house.
It's a platform that aggregates device connectors and provides the technical infrastructure brands and innovators need to add compatibility to their devices and apps, using a single API.
"Yonomi saw an opportunity to try and make life easier for people that were trying to become part of the smart home ecosystem," Vince Wenos, Allegion's SVP and CTO, explained to The Ambient, a week or so after the acquisition was made public.
"It can be difficult for app developers to interface with devices, to understand what its capabilities are and to utilise those capabilities in their particular application. And, conversely, it can be difficult for device manufacturers who specialize in providing a piece of smart hardware to leverage the cloud, and cloud applications, to connect with applications.
"So they had a thought to try and streamline and connect those types of parties. And, as they started to grow their business, they found that there were a fair number of fairly well known household names like Sonos and others that felt there would be value to being able to leverage that from either the device side, or the or the app side."
Wenos explained that it was this streamlining and simplifying that first brought Allegion and Yonomi together.
"As we've rolled out connected deadbolt products we've leveraged their platform. And so they have been a critical enabler of our growth in the home ecosystem with connected deadbolts.
"We started investing in them as a partner in 2017. And then, of course, late last year, we were very fortunate to be able to make them part of the Allegion family."
Why then, did Allegion feel the need to acquire Yonomi, when it was already utilising the app experience for users of its smart locks, such as the Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt?
Wenos told us that it was down to the broader experiences that the Allegion-owned brands working together would now be able to bring to the home ecosystem, as well as plans for expanding beyond individual use cases.
"We see what they've done in the residential space as being equally applicable in lots of the other vertical markets we serve. So, when we think about multifamily or multi-dwelling units, the platform applies equally well there. We think we can leverage that to our advantage, and other vertical markets that we would consider more commercial.
"We believe that their solution will allow us to bring better device experiences to our partners, as well as for our partners to connect to our devices much more easily," he added. "To provide a better, more seamless experience, right from the time you leave your house.
"Why isn't that when I get to the office I have a completely different experience? I have to present a different credential, to get into my office, or even the the gym.
"We see opportunity through these types of partnerships, and certainly through the technology, for Allegion to grow our business much more broadly than we've been able to in the past."
The good news, for existing Yonomi users, is that the app that they know and love will continue to operate and evolve over time; Allegion has no plans to shut it down.
"We will continue the platform for current and even new partners," Wenos explained.
"There's a lot of our competitors that like to put together, I'll say, a closed ecosystem, right? Meaning if you don't buy our applications and our devices, you can't work with us; or at least it's very difficult to do.
"We prefer to be much more open and we think that makes the pie bigger for everyone. A lot of the work we will be doing to help Allegion, we think will benefit the platforming and other partners as well."
We asked the Allegion CTO if he thought, therefore, that the Yonomi platform could become a major smart home ecosystem to take on the Big Tech Goliaths.
"You can look at what a lot of people may view as competitors, and actually we look at them as partners, so we integrate with Google, we integrate with Amazon, we work with Apple HomeKit," he replied. "We bring value and they recognise that value with brands like Schlage."
"You have to stay current and understand where their technology roadmaps are going. But as long as you have the partnerships that we do, and are able to do that it, it provides more opportunity than not."
And, on that, Allegion is already making strides.
"We are very close to that participating in CHIP," Wenos told us. "I think if you turn a blind eye to CHIP, you're probably making a mistake. You've got some interesting players trying to work together there to drive that.
"And will they ultimately be successful? I think there's been good progress. We'll see as we get into the first part of this year if some of the things the CHIP group is driving come to fruition.
"But from my point of view, yes, we play there, we see that as an opportunity and one that we will participate in."