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Microsoft Scoops Up Home Automation Startup Before Apple

Microsoft has reportedly purchased id8 Group R2 Studios Inc., a home entertainment tech startup with no products on the market save for an Android app called R2 Control for Crestron for controlling heating and lighting systems. This acquisition will supposedly bolster the company's Xbox division, sources claim, although the specifics are unclear at this point.

id8 Group R2 Studios was created in 2011 by entrepreneur Blake Krikorian. Prior to the new company, he was founder of Sling Media Inc., the manufacturer of the popular Slingbox home TV streaming device which was eventually sold to EchoStar in 2007 for about $380 million.

Microsoft has yet to make an official announcement about the R2 Studios acquisition, but the Redmond company was named as a potential buyer last month along with rivals Google and Apple. Also unknown at this point is the actual amount Microsoft paid for the newly-acquired home entertainment tech startup.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft acquired certain patents related to controlling electronic devices as part of the acquisition deal. Prior to the R2 Studios acquisition, Krikorian and his team were working on technology related to distributing and displaying digital media on TVs. Now they will be joining Microsoft possibly to bring this tech to the Xbox Infinity slated for a reveal this June.

Last week Amazon said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that Krikorian had resigned from its board of directors. Krikorian informed the online retail giant of his decision to resign on December 26, effective immediately. No further reason for the move was given, Amazon said (but the move should now be fairly obvious). He originally joined Amazon's board back in 2011.

So far there's only speculation as to what Krikorian and his team will bring to the Xbox table. Microsoft is reportedly launching an Xbox-branded set-top box along with the Xbox Infinity late this year focused on streaming TV, social networking and casual gaming. There's also speculation that the acquisition means that Media Center development may be canned.

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