Alticast, which sells products and software for multi-screen viewing and TV interactivity, proposed in a recently published white paper that cable boxes could become protocol-agnostic Internet-of-Things hubs. Such a design, the company argued, could help address the competing protocols and closed systems that are hampering the IoT industry.
In the white paper, Susan Crouse, director of product management for Alticast, suggests tying the complex array of IoT hubs from makers including Belkin, Lowe's, Quirky and Philips into a single ecosystem with the living-room TV as a notification center.
Since cable operators including Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) have already begun selling security and other home-automation features, also controlling the "smart pipe" into the home could give them advantages by tying together disparate IoT devices, Crouse wrote.
"The fact that the operator has a box in the household that is already connected to the smart pipe means that a central gateway is already in place," she noted. "As operators provide more and more video and data gateways for consumers, these boxes will be even more robust for IoT management."
"The operator already has a financial relationship with the household and can create B2B relationships with the various entities that want to provide additional services," Crouse added. "The billing infrastructure is in place, so new services can be aggregated into the existing billing structure, alleviating the consumer from being billed by a number of IoT providers. The operator can provide add-on services whether they are energy, security, or health related, and can provide billing settlement to the various providers. This creates a single point of billing, reduction in hardware controllers, and a single point of interface for the consumer."
Engadget, which originally unearthed Crouse's white paper, noted that cable operators could turn IoT set-tops into a key hedge against cord cutting. In doing so, they might not be challenged by the forces of OTT, at least not immediately.
The tech blog also asked Roku if it might enable such technology into feature OTT boxes, but the streaming device maker said it has no plans to do so.
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