LG acquires Athom to advance AI-enabled smart home

Electronics giant takes large majority stake in smart home platform company to gain deeper insights into customers’ lifestyle and usage patterns and accelerate AI home business

As the world of immersive environments and spatial computing evolves with companies investigating what the transformation of workspaces – in the office and at home – will look like and how it will change people’s roles, tasks and positions, LG Electronics has acquired an 80% stake in Athom.

Founded in 2014 and based in Enschede, Netherlands, Athom develops the Homey smart home hub, which connects with home appliances and internet of things (IoT) devices, and offers cloud subscription services.

Homey has expanded primarily in Europe over the past decade, gaining a customer base of hundreds of thousands of users. As of 2023, its devices are available in Australia, Singapore, the US and Canada, in addition to Europe. Its flagship product, Homey Pro, can connect to more than 50,000 devices, and supports various connection methods including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, Matter and Thread.

Athom has also developed its own hub and operating system to create an independent smart home ecosystem. The Homey App Store, managed by Athom, offers around 1,000 applications for connecting and controlling home devices from brands such as Philips Hue and IKEA. Many of these applications are based on official partnerships, alongside a large number of apps developed by the Homey community. Users can also create a smart home environment by downloading apps from the store and linking their devices.

Putting the acquisition into financial context, LG cited research from analyst TechNavio projecting the global smart home market to grow from $81.2bn in 2023 to $260.24bn by 2028, with an average annual growth rate of 26.23%.

By integrating Athom’s capabilities with its Affectionate Intelligence technology, LG is looking to lead the artificial intelligence (AI)-driven home innovation era to enhance LG’s connectivity in open smart home ecosystems.

Under the acquisition deal, LG is planning to integrate Athom’s connectivity – which links appliances, sensors and lighting devices – with the generative AI (GenAI)-enabled LG ThinQ platform. This integration aims to create an AI home that delivers optimal space services by gaining a deeper understanding of the customer.

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In AI home, LG envisages that customers will engage with GenAI, which will manage appliances and IoT devices to create a personalised environment tailored to their preferences.

LG envisions expanding the differentiated customer experience of AI homes to various spaces where customers spend their time, such as commercial spaces and mobility environments, ultimately realising and advancing what it calls the concept of Intelligent Space.

LG believes it’s poised to significantly enhance the scalability required for implementing AI homes, aiming to achieve what it said will be the “highest industry standards”.

The acquisition will also enable LG to incorporate third-party devices and services into its ecosystem. LG aims to establish continuous relationships with customers through numerous devices connected to the AI home, ultimately transforming into a Smart Life Solution Company.

The acquisition agreement includes an option for LG to acquire the remaining 20% of Athom shares in the next three years. After the acquisition, Athom will continue to operate independently, maintaining its business operations and branding. This strategy is designed to maximise Athom’s growth potential, and what are described as “unique” strengths, while fostering synergies in business, research and development capabilities, as well as platform utilisation.

“The acquisition of Athom is a cornerstone for our AI home business,” said Jung Ki-hyun, executive vice-president and head of LG’s Platform Business Centre. “By leveraging the synergy between the two companies, we will expand our open ecosystem and external integration services, aiming to provide customers with more diverse and multidimensional space experiences.”

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