Staples and Zonoff today unveiled the next anticipated steps in the expansion of the Staples Connect home and office automation platform with a number of discrete announcements.
First up, Staples will be adding its outstanding, interactive, in-store display for Staples Connect to nearly a third of its retail locations—500 in total. These in-store displays feature live, interactive products (not plastic device mock-ups like the phones just a few aisles away) and nearly 150 discrete product SKUs of smart devices. This expansion likely gives Staples one of the largest in-store collections of compatible connected devices at a physical retail location.
Accompanying this expansion, Staples also plans to roll out an enhanced wearables offering, with select products that will also integrate with and control products in the Staples Connect ecosystem. As an example, the Jawbone UP24 band will be used to trigger activities like toggling lights or adjusting shades, based on whether your band is in sleep or awake mode (our favorite of Zonoff’s concept demos at CES in January).
Next Generation Hub
Additionally, Staples announced a new Staples Connect Hub from D-Link, which will be available this Fall. The D-Link hub adds support for ZigBee and Bluetooth LE in addition to the protocols already supported today. The new hub will retail for $79.99, while the existing Linksys hub will remain available at a reduced price of $49.99. For anyone who’s keeping track, that’s five radios (compared to Revolv’s seven) that will all be active for under $80 (as opposed to Revolv’s $299 price tag). What Staples didn’t talk about—and the folks at Smarthome haven’t yet responded to our query—was the expected addition of support for INSTEON products.
Mobile Platform Support
While the Staples Connect ecosystem wins in terms of compatibility and ease of implementation, the user experience is still lagging on the app/control side. Microsoft today announced the availability of a Staples Connect app for Windows 8. In fact, this app is little more than a wrapper for Staples’ web-based control site that we’ve seen previously.
The app doesn’t follow Windows 8’s modern design language, and the wrapper actually exacerbates existing, known issues since neither the wrapper nor the app itself offer a means of backward navigation. Dead-end workflows in device configuration and control now offer no easy way back to a logical starting point, and many of the views don’t react to touch scrolling over the majority of their screen real estate. Curiously, the app already (on Day 1?) has a 5-star rating with numerous light-weight, positive reviews.
We’re hoping they get the 10-foot experience better for the announced Samsung TV integration.
Read the full press release from Staples.