Editor’s note: Lowe’s and Inman News have a content-sharing partnership not related to this story.

Home improvement retailer Lowe’s plans to introduce a cloud-based home-management system in North America called Iris in mid-2012, which will allow users to monitor and control many aspects of their home from their smartphone, tablet or computer, including thermostats, refrigerators, smart plugs, lighting, door locks, motion sensors and more.

On Jan. 5, Lowe’s announced a partnership with the England-based home technology company AlertMe. The Iris system will be wireless and allow users to interact with and control many aspects of their home in real time from any mobile device.

"We’re rolling out a platform that is open and multiprotocol, which will work with any number of devices and third-party systems," said AlertMe CEO Mary Turner. There are as many as 25 to 30 connectable devices in a consumer’s home, she said, which Lowe’s Iris and AlertMe are working to interconnect through a singular brand.

As "smart" technology continues to proliferate, the mass-release of affordable homeowner-controlled "smart" technology is the next step. Because of Lowe’s size and business relationships, said Greg Bridgeford, an executive at Lowe’s, the home retailer has the ability to offer this new technology at a rate many can afford.

There have been simple remote applications for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems in the past, said Stuart Sikes, an emerging technology expert at Parks Associates, but not a full offering of such services to the mass market. Indeed, it might be safe to bet that Iris is just the beginning.

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