Microsoft Band Gains Smart Appliance Controls From Insteon

Insteon is pushing its Internet of Things and home automation services towards wearables thanks to a new tie-in with the Microsoft Band. This integration comes on the heels of a similar announcement regarding Insteon Apple Watch support. Insteon said its RESTful API will let developers bring environmental controls and more to Microsoft's wearable, but there are a few catches involved. 

In order to jump aboard Insteon's home automation developer train, you first need to buy the Insteon Hub for $39.99. Everything goes through the Hub and developers (and consumers) simply can't do anything without it. Developers also need to request access to Insteon's API by registering with its developer program. Once those hurdles are cleared, Insteon said the API will allow developers to build apps capable of sending a command to any Insteon Hub in the world, all under OAuth 2.0 compliance. Said commands can do things like turn off lights or crank up the AC at home remotely.

"We're delighted to extend our [home automation] control to the Microsoft Band,” said Joe Dada, CEO of Insteon, in a prepared statement. "Together with our developer community, we're bringing new power and flexibility to home automation, making it easier than ever for consumers to enjoy life at home—wherever you happen to be."

Insteon says its REST API negates the need to learn the specifics of Insteon communications in order to build a powerful Insteon-compatible application. The company suggests developers brush up on their HEX, but it does offer plenty of documentation for the Insteon Hub and other home automation hardware offered by Insteon. Same goes for the API itself, which has a rich array of available documentation via Insteon's developer web site. 

Developers can use these tools to bring control and commands to the Microsoft Band. The Band is the first fitness wearable to run on the Microsoft Health platform. Though the Band itself is intended more for health and fitness tracking, in can be used to interact with smart home appliances via Insteon's API. There is a limitation, however: in order to work, the Band will require a nearby smartphone. The daisychain will go from users' wrists to the smartphone, to the WiFi network, to the Insteon Hub, and finally to the actual appliance.

(Or, you know, the healthnut wearing the fitness band can get off their butt and turn on the lights the old-fashioned way. But I digress.) 

Other than the initial $39.99 fee for the Insteon Hub, there don't appear to be any other costs involved to begin work on home automation apps for the Microsoft Band. 

If you're not sold on the Band's potential, perhaps the Apple Watch will interest you. Insteon has a similar set of tools available to create Apple Watch apps right here

Eric Zeman I am a journalist who covers the mobile telecommunications industry. I freelance for ProgrammableWeb and other online properties.

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