Apple Ready To Set Up Home Automation, 'FT' Says

Apple plans to take on Google and Samsung with a “Jetsons-style home automation” software platform that will be unveiled at its Worldwide Developer Conference that opens next Monday in San Francisco, the Financial Times’ Tim Bradshaw revealed yesterday.

Apple refused to comment on the report and “has been known to change its plans for WWDC at the last moment,” Bradshaw cautions, but that did not stop a slew of other commentators from offering their musings on the implications of the possibly pending announcement.

It “could finally tie together a sea of individual devices — and controllers — to turn the niche ‘Internet of things’ into a mainstream market,” writes Apple Insider’s Mikey Campbell. Others have tried before, of course  — Campbell cites Belkin's WeMo home automation technology as well as open standards such as SmartThings and ZigBee — and it won’t be alone in the future. “What Apple brings to the table is a massive installed user base in iOS device owners,” he writes.

As FT’s Bradshaw points out, “Apple’s coming move follows Google’s $3.2 billion acquisition in January of Nest Labs, makers of internet-connected thermostats and smoke alarms, and Samsung’s recent debut of its Smart Home range of refrigerators, washing machines and TVs that can be controlled from its smartphones and watches.”

“Apple’s new smart home platform is likely to connect multiple home appliances and functions for control through an iPhone or iPad, including signaling lights to turn themselves on in the home once your arrival is sensed through wireless signals,” Rhiannon Williams writes in the Telegraph.

It will also incorporate Apple TV, TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington, writes, which will get its own hardware update later this year. The combined system will “work like Apple’s ‘Made for iPhone’ program with third-party hardware, per the FT, allowing accessory makers like Dropcam, Nest and Philips to get their connected home devices certified to work with Apple’s central automation platform,” Etherington reports.

Apple “has some experience in creating technology that lets other devices integrate with iOS — look no further than Apple’s AirPlay media streaming technology and CarPlay system (which lets you access certain iOS features from you car’s in-dash touchscreen),” writes PC World’s Nick Mediati. “In addition, the connected home market is young, its appeal is obvious, and its growth potential is staggering — not unlike the smartphone market circa 2007. We all remember what happened there.”

The Wall Street Journal’s “Market Watch” writer Barbara Kollmeyer  tells us that  “Apple referenced devices talking to other devices and controlling not just lights, but also security systems, garage-door openers, music and climate controllers, and kitchen appliances” in a patent it filed last year.

“The upside for investors is that families wanting a connected-home system will need, you guessed it, more devices. That would mean more sales of iPhones, iPads, and the Apple TV box,” she writes.

Writing that the FT’s report “makes sense,” Mashable’s Pete Pachal elaborates on “5 Things Apple Can Bring to the Smart Home”: 1. User experience ; 2. A reason to buy; 3. Established partners; 4. Privacy and security; 5. Going beyond the home.

The Washington Post’s Gail Sullivan delves a bit into privacy concerns people have expressed over the “Internet of Things.” “Consumers may have reservations about new technologies that promise to bring even more aspects of our lives online, potentially bringing them under the government’s microscope and making us more vulnerable to hackers,” she writes, citing the recent Heartbleed and Blackshades security breaches.

“And even the innovators responsible for pushing us towards a more Internet-connected existence acknowledge that privacy is an issue with the Internet of things,” she writes, with a telling quote from “a Father of the Internet,” Vert Cerf, who is now Chief Internet Evangelist for Google.For all the benefits of the forthcoming software and devices, Cerf concludes that “privacy will be hard to come by.”

Apple’s retail stores already sell the Nest Thermostat, Philips Hue lightbulbs and Belkin WeMo Wi-Fi-enabled light switches, Jordan Golson reports on MacRumors in a short piece that has drawn nearly 300 (mostly excited) reactions but also comments along the lines of “automatic shades and iPhone-controlled lights are only for people who are ridiculously lazy.”

But surely someone is working on a machine that perform for us all of those push-ups and squats needed to counteract the “lifestyle of motionlessness” that remote controls have wrought, no?

Recommend (2) Print RSS