Is Apple getting into the home automation or smart home market? That’s the consensus of a lot of news outlets today. The Financial Times is reporting that Apple will announce something that will allow an iPhone of iPad to control multiple devices around the house, such as lights, motion sensors and security cameras. The Apple home automation solution is likely to be announced at the Worldwide Developer Conference on June 2.
I have to assume that Apple knows that its iOS devices can already be used by home automation systems and that for years iPhones and iPads have provided the default interface for every popular smart home system on the market. From professionally-installed to DIY, iOS compatibility has been the most important feature of every home automation system for the past several years. So what will Apple bring to this market that the market isn’t already ten steps ahead of?
Brand recognition and technology exposure are probably the biggest things that Apple can bring to the smart home market. While Electronic House readers already know that home automation technologies are well established (and getting more affordable), a lot of other people haven’t caught on. That’s changing quickly though as affordable home automation systems get more exposure, consumer interest in the category is rising.
Another thing that Apple can bring to the smart home market is the establishment of a wireless control standard—yes, another one. Will Apple home automation use Z-Wave, Zigbee, Insteon, Wi-Fi, 6LOPAN or something completely different. According to the Financial Times report, there will be a licensing program for compatible devices similar to the “Made for iPhone,” and AirPlay licenses. I doubt that Apple would start from scratch with a completely new standard, so we can probably expect that Apple’s smart home system will communicate using Wi-Fi or a variation of some other already established wireless system in the same way that Lowe’s Iris works with Iris-approved Z-Wave devices.
If the Financial Times Apple article is correct, will this mean that Apple is also coming out with a hub or gateway product? Will the Apple TV become that hub (it would do great things for Apple TV sales)? How will this impact the hatchling market of new home automation hubs like Revolv, Staple’s Connect and SmartThings?
As with most Apple rumors, we’ll just have to wait and see, and then hopefully get our hands on a product for a review.