Apple first announced HomeKit, its wireless protocol for home automation, almost an entire year ago at Apple’s developers conference in June 2014.
Finally it looks like the first batch of hardware partners will be launching their iOs HomeKit-complaint devices.
First HomeKit-compliant devices:
- Ecobee’s ecobee3 WiFi-connected thermostat. $250.00
- Elgato’s Eve, line of Bluetooth sensors that collect data on air quality, humidity, air pressure, temperature as well as energy and water consumption.
- iHOME’s iSP5 SmartPlug will allow users to turn on and off lights or appliances wirelessly. $39.99
- Lutron’s Caséta Wireless Lighting Starter Kit , abridge device that connects the HomeKit standard with its connected lighting system. $229.95
- Insteon’s Hub, a bridge device that connects its massive catalogue of existing home automation devices with HomeKit. $149.99
Each of these device makers had to go through Apple’s MFi (“Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad”) program to achieve certification. The process can be length and difficult but the end result should be quality products that can work together.
With the HomeKit certification, the setup process is a bit faster for consumers. Apple’s stringent policies also mean privacy and security layers will be in place to prevent smart devices from being misused.
The HomeKit API also requires that third-party applications for smart devices in use must run in the foreground, so you will know exactly which apps are controlling your devices at home.
HomeKit-enabled device also get access to Apple’s intelligent assistant Siri, which so far has been largely walled off for iOS developers from what I understand.
Apple TV will serve as the hub for HomeKit devices. The five new devices launched today already work with any third generation Apple TV.
Apple is expected to announce a new A-8 based Apple TV complete with an App Store and Siri at WWDC on June 8 along with more details about the HomeKit and related accessories. The set-top box is rumored to feature a dramatic storage boost well beyond the 8 GB n the current model.
More companies will soon be launching a slew of HomeKit-compliant devices. I’m sure the shelves will be full by Christmas.
I think the new smart LED light bulbs from GE with their proprietary GE Align technology will be popular. With so much focus on quality sleep these days, GE has created lighting technology that will produce a more natural sleep cycle.
Integrating this tech into these bulbs will allow users to automate lighting based on the body’s natural sleep circadian rhythm. That basically means in the morning, the light will have a brighter, bluer tone. In the evening, it will produce an amber light, similar to a campfire or candlelit dinner.
Interestingly, only 13% of U.S. households with broadband report owning at least one smart home device and only 7% have their smart devices are connected to a centralized controller, according to a report published by Park Associates and the Consumer Electronic Association last year.
So far these new HomeKit devices aren’t that impressive and just like the Nest Compatible devices/appliances I wrote about previously, most will work independently.
Speaking of Nest, Google continues to stir things up in the Home automation arena with their new announcement of Brillo, a smart home operating system, and Weave, a common language for devices to communicate with one another. Stay tuned, the home automation market is just starting to heat up with experts predicting staggering growth from $6.9 billion in 2014 to $10.3 billion in 2019.