By Beth N. Gray
BROOKSVILLE — The tech firm is tiny. But its name, Atmos Home, suggests high aspirations.
From an idea birthed three years ago, the start-up squirreled away in the Hernando County Airport Industrial Park has landed a spot in the prestigious Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. There, on Jan. 8, Atmos will unveil its first product, a smart-home control system.
The device performs as a single remote, connecting and operating all of a home's smart electronics, from light bulbs, window blinds, thermostats and entertainment equipment, to door locks, door bells and outdoor security systems. It can be operated by touch, voice, app or gesture.
Local resident Mark Lyle invented the multi-talentedunit named AtmosControl. At 44, Lyle said he's old among computer whiz kids.
"I'm absolutely a geek," he conceded. He started programming computers at age 8.
While toying around three years ago with his home entertainment system, Lyle grew frustrated trying to join together its lighting, sound, TV and remote control components.
"None of these systems worked very well together," he recalled recently. Each device had its own app, and the apps didn't speak to each other.
Lyle engineered new software, dismantled the devices' various hardware pieces, reassembled them and built a prototype of his product-to-be, an all-around-the-home controller.
"I put it on my own website," Lyle said, with a suggested selling price of $299. "About 5,000 people said they'd be interested in buying it."
Such response suggested a sufficient market to proceed. And Luminance Brands, a national lighting manufacturer based near Los Angeles, also took note and invested $1 million in Atmos Home's project.
"They found us," Lyle said.
Luminance expects its investment will enhance that firm's line of traditional lighting with smart features, giving it a boost as the smart-home market expands, said CEO Christopher Larocca.
The money will allow Atmos to launch production, further its new product development and tap into Luminance's nationwide customer base, noted Dean Gebert. The newly added Atmos chief marketing officer works out of Santa Monica.
Other home control devices are on the market, but those tabletop gizmos await a verbal command to turn up the thermostat, for instance.
"We take it quite a bit further," Lyle said. "We can do a chain of command." He demonstrated, using various smart devices plugged into the firm's conference room, plus the Atmos wall-mounted command screen.
"Atmos, turn the temperature to 72, dim the lights, start the TV and tune to 'Stranger Things' on Netflix," he said without pause.
It all happened. Lyle smiled.
Commands also can be given by touching any device pictured on the screen.
Chris Ladwig, co-founder of Atmos and an Orlando-based graphic designer, is responsible for making the Atmos Home unit visually appealing, with a brushed-aluminum frame, high-definition touch-screen and a screen font that "informs" rather than "shouts."
Buyers of the command unit will be "customers who already bought smart devices and are frustrated that they don't work together," Lyle said. "We will provide access to 99.9 percent of devices, and we hope to make that 100 percent over time."
AtmosControl units will begin shipping in the spring, he said.
With no government or tax incentives, the Atmos manufacturing line is going into the firm's 2500-square-foot facility in the industrial park. Local hires are expected to include a couple of engineers, plus line workers, for a total of more than 20 by the end of 2019. They'll join Lyle and his wife, office manager Cheri Lyle, on site.
Before Atmos Home existed, Lyle and his brother founded and then sold an electronics factory in the Orlando area that turned out 30,000 units a week. His brother retired.
"This is my second time around," Lyle said, "and I hope to make it as successful as the first time."
For more information: Company and pre-order information is available at atmoshome.tech.
Contact Beth Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.