Microsoft buys home-automation startup R2 Studios

Microsoft buys home-automation startup R2 Studios

Summary: Microsoft has purchased R2 Studios, a startup working on home-automation applications, and is folding the new company into its Xbox division.


It's official. Microsoft has purchased id8 Group R2 Studios, the home-automation startup, for an undisclosed amount.


The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Microsoft had beat Google and Apple to the punch in the quest to buy R2 Studios. But it wasn't until Microsoft issued the confirmation on January 10 that the Softies confirmed the deal was done.

R2 Studios founder Blake Krikorian will be Corporate Vice President of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB), which is the home of the Xbox. Krikorian will report to Marc Whitten, Chief Product Officer for IEB, Microsoft officials said. Krikorian was the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Sling Media Inc., inventor of the Slingbox.

Microsoft's press release didn't detail how or when R2 Studios' technologies and patents will fit into Microsoft's product line-up. But Microsoft, like R2 Studios, has been active in the home-automation technology space.

GeekWire unearthed late last week some interesting patent information about R2 Studios. GeekWire noted:

"Krikorian’s company acquired more than two dozen patents and patent applications last year covering a wide range of automation technologies in the home. One of them is a broad patent for using a central server in conjunction with a portable remote as a master control for everything in the home — including televisions, computers, stereos, lights, ovens, alarm clocks and more."

Microsoft is in the process of evolving the Xbox from a gaming console to a home-entertainment/hub. Adding home-automation technologies to the platform would seem to fit right in with this effort.

Topics: Start-Ups, Apple, Google, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • I think it is going to be neck to neck fight between

    Microsoft and Android OEMs. Android OEM want to put Android in every space like ovens, refrigerators, washing machines (remember Bill Gates wanted to do this with Windows Embedded) etc. Now Microsoft is back to the same dream of Bill Gates and I think Microsoft could push Windows RT as the OS for those appliances and since Xbox is integrated into Windows RT, they could use the same SmartGlass or something like that app to control these devices. And since SmartGlass is also available for Android, it is not a biggie for them to control Android based appliances at home. I am not saying Apple can't do this, but their route is different from Microsoft's and Google's.
    Ram U
    • I saw the embedded android

      and while I don't care for an android oven, I will be interested to see where people take this. Law of averages suggests that if they find 500 ways to embed android, at least one will be useful.
      I'm sure it will start a flame war but I can this being a major asset to android over IOS and MS (if they don't go the same route). I'm not talking fridge-toasters here but it expands the ecosystem beyond the traditional formats.
      Little Old Man
      • Agreed.

        I also would love to see these. Yes, you could cook with traditional ovens and stoves, store using traditional refrigerators. There is nothing wrong having a "Smart" Oven to notify someone who wants to watch a movie while something they are cooking and that is almost at the end of cooking or becoming like a tar etc. I also would love to have a fridge that would notify me if Milk or juices or vegetables are almost over, yes I could use my hands to open the door and watch, but I would love to get notified if something is about to expire or decompose and take some notes or statistics etc. There is nothing wrong to dream, right? and I don't care whether those are powered by Android, Windows or iOS. Bottom line home appliance automation is a great area for innovation.
        Ram U
  • I wish they would concentrate on Car Info systems

    I have never been quite convinced that we need intelligent fridges etc.

    Microsoft need to be getting into pugabble Car Map/Entertaininment/ Inofrmaiton systems arena. This is a market crying out for a more flexible computing component, which would allow car users to download Apps to chnage their Car info system experience.

    Microsoft needs to get in out front and not keep sitting back, and watching others grap market and mindshare.

    But I guess the Car Industry, would expect the Computing Industry help them develop a Common hardware and Signal Interface to 'open' standards, so as not to be tied into an eco system. Microsoft should be seen to be leading such an initiative.