Vivint's Acquisition of Space Monkey Foresees a Distributed Cloud Smart Home Platform

This latest acquisition in the smart home space shows the hunt for the smart home killer app is still on.
Published: Fri 19 Sep 2014

The smart home has for years felt like a slow rumbling train to inevitability, lacking the killer app to fast track adoption. The latest acquisition by smart home technology supplier, Vivint of cloud storage firm Space Monkey shows that the search is still on.

Space Monkey uses a peer-to-peer network, rather than a data center, to offer greater speed, security and cost savings for personal data storage.

The space monkey solution requires customers to buy a networked hard drive which connects to other space monkey drives, creating a distributed storage network.

The acquisition makes sense as here is an opportunity to bundle a data store for smart home information as well as an opportunity for hardware convergence, hard drive, smart home monitor, surveillance centre - you name it.

Time to change how the world stores data

Space Monkey competes against other consumer cloud storage companies such as Dropbox. But, instead of syncing up files on a remote server, Space Monkey puts the data on a networked hard drive in its customer’s home. The small Space Monkey hard drive links up to all of the other Space Monkey hard drives to become a “distributed cloud.” Therefore, if the personal hard drive ever breaks down at home, files are still backed up on the thousands of other Space Monkey drives distributed around the world.

The biggest benefit of this setup is that it eliminates the huge overhead costs of maintaining a high energy-intensive data centre. Space Monkey bills itself as a cheaper, faster alternative to a data center. This is according to a press release the company provided during its Kickstarter campaign last year, when it raised close to US$350,000.

The campaign information decries data centers as too costly and cumbersome: “These are high-cost buildings tightly packed with expensive computer equipment. They need costly fire suppression systems, diesel backup generators, expansive power distribution systems, premium network equipment, biometric access controls, security patrols, and consume vast amounts of electricity and air-conditioning. They require 24/7 staffing and Network Operations Centers. The ongoing daily costs of keeping data centers running is exorbitant compared to the actual cost of the hard drives that store your data in the cloud.”

Space Monkey’s campaign information states that “it’s time to change how the world stores data, forever. What if we took the cloud out of the data center and put it a little box that you plug in at your house? What if we put software on it that allows it to cooperate with millions of other devices plugged in all over the globe to create a storage network that not only is orders of magnitude cheaper than data centres, but is also more reliable, faster, and better for the environment? Space Monkey is the answer.”

It continues: “Space Monkey is the next generation cloud. ... You get a full terabyte (1000 gigabytes) of storage you can use anywhere, any time. Space Monkey does the work behind the scenes to make your data safe and secure, using the entire network of Space Monkey devices around the world to store encrypted pieces of data in a way that makes data loss a thing of the past.”

Cloud augments the smart home platform

The acquisition supports the growth and development of the Vivint Sky smart home platform. The plan is to sell the Space Monkey cloud services to Vivint’s customers as well as eventually finding ways of combining the cloud storage with Vivint’s smart home technology.

Vivint recently introduced the Vivint SkyControl panel, which features proprietary cloud technology that learns from homeowners' behaviors and makes intelligent suggestions to add new levels of convenience and control over the home.

“As we move into the smart home, we’re suddenly producing prodigious amounts of data,” says Space Monkey co-founder Alen PeacockPeacock. “The Space Monkey technology can really augment the smart home.”

Engerati thinks that perhaps the killer app lies in convergence -one neatly packaged box not just connecting your digital home, but also serving your digital life.

While cloud is still in the early stages of development and adoption within the utility industry, a number of benefits are already evident and are offering robust solutions to wide-ranging obstacles that big data is posing. [Engerati-Data Analytics – The Cloud Killer App for the Smart Grid.]