Microsoft buys home-automation startup R2 Studios

Microsoft has purchased R2 Studios, a startup working on home-automation applications, and is folding the new company into its Xbox division.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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