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Startup Boots Up Smart Home Platform

SmartHome Ventures, a company founded in 2013 being led by former Charter Communications exec Ted Schremp, has launched “PĒQ” (pronounced “peek”), a retail-focused home automation service that will compete with a wide range of products that have been introduced by several major telecom service providers.

PĒQ’s operating system is powered by Icontrol Networks, the same company that powers the home security and automation platforms of MSOs such as Comcast, Bright House Networks, Time Warner Cable, and Cox Communications, among others, as well as for partners such as ADT.

But PĒQ’s approach to the smart home market, which is also being targeted by Google and Apple as well as Samsung (following its recent acquistion of  SmartThings), appears to be focused on a low-cost, interoperable system that, it claims, is easy for consumers to install on their own.

Its $119.99 starter kit includes the centralized hub for connectivity, plus one door and window sensor, and a no-contract service that sells for $9.99 per month. PĒQ’s product portfolio also includes a camera ($129.99), a “smart” thermostat “($129.99), and a variety of motion, water and carbon monoxide detectors. Customers can control PĒQ’s platform via apps that run on smartphones, tablets or PCs. The company claims that a typical customer can set up the system in less than 30 minutes.

"With widespread adoption of broadband internet, smartphones and tablets, consumers are ready to embrace the concept of a smart home," said Schremp, in a statement. "However, consumers are still hesitant because of the lack of a simple, affordable, and consistently reliable platform. With PĒQ, we're making home automation easy, reliable and accessible through a consumer friendly design, a rigorous lab certification process for devices, ongoing firmware and app updates, and dedicated customer support."

PĒQ is currently pitching its wares online, and expects to offer products through a network of online and in-store distribution partners. Of note, its products will be offered at “select” Best Buy stores and at BestBuy.com starting August 31.

Kansas City, Mo.-based SmartHome Ventures was founded in early 2013. Schremp, who left Charter for personal reasons in February 2011, most recently was CEO of FirstMedia, the largest cable operator in Indonesia.

Schremp’s not the only SmartHome Ventures exec with a cable background. Christopher Caffrey, its vice president of sales, previously served as VP of business development at Comcast.