Apple just made a compelling case for HomeKit in iOS 10.2

"Hey Siri, let me know if my home floods"

Apple, Elgato, iOS, HomeKit, burglar alarm, smart home

While it is fair to say it took a little longer than expected to get off the ground, Apple’s Home Kit ecosystem has become more interesting in recent months. This week’s iOS 10.2 update makes a compelling argument for Apple's smart home.

Sensor sensitivity

This is because iOS now supports a variety of new devices, including window coverings, occupancy, motion, door and window detectors, smoke, carbon monoxide, and water leak sensors.

These are the kind of useful connected smarthome devices people will want to use in order to secure their homes, as they answer problems that do exist.

You see, while things like connected thermostats or kitchen gadgets are nice to have, they aren’t quite essential. In contrast, affordable devices that let you secure your windows, protect against flooding or create ad hoc motion sensing alarms around the home appear to have much more potential.

You could argue these make it possible for Apple users to secure their homes at relatively low cost – and it’s the most compelling reason yet to explore these solutions.

Apple has spent a long time resolving some of the big challenges of smart home automation (not least security and interoperability) and has also had to motivate manufacturers to sign up to its scheme.

Interest has grown to such a point that third party developers and ecosystem providers are now moving to introduce tools to enable HomeKit device development.

For example, Silicon Labs earlier this month introduced a Bluetooth software solution that enables developers to efficiently create Apple HomeKit-enabled accessories. Dialog Semiconductor provides a similar set of tools for power, Bluetooth, and lighting implementations and shipped its solution in November.

In October Apple said it expected there to be around 100 HomeKit-enabled devices available by the end of this year.

A little more about HomeKit in iOS 102

When you install iOS 10.2 you may be aware of changed behavior. That’s because you will begin to receive notifications from some HomeKit devices designed to alert you to events. (It’s clear this is primarily aimed at supporting the new sensor families).

You can control the frequency and appearance of notifications from your HomeKit devices when you open the Home app, select the device and long (or firm on 3D Touch devices) press them in order to access the Details button.

In Details you must go down the page to “Status and Notifications”. Now you can choose the frequency with which notifications are sent, you may want your smoke detector to send you an alert whenever it detects a problem, for example, or your curtains to tell you when they are opened (or closed).

HomeKit devices can also now let you know when they need to be updated.

New wave HomeKit items ship

The first devices equipped with these newly supported sensors are reaching market, with Elgato and new firm, FIBARO both introducing products for this.

The first to appear was Elgato’s Eve Motion ($50), part of that company’s rapidly growing family of connected home devices. This device will activate and deactivate power outlets, lights, or any other connected systems when it detects a user’s presence or absence. In other

Eve Motion will activate and deactivate power outlets, lights, or any other connected systems when it detects a user’s presence or absence. 

FIBARO today introduced a trio of HomeKit-enabled devices, including a flood ($69), motion ($69) and window sensor ($59). The flood sensor  measures temperature while the motion sensor looks like a big blue dystopian eye and senses movement, temperature and light intensity – and warns you if someone tries to tamper with it.

What next?

I think these new sensor-supporting devices are a good step forward for HomeKit.

You see, while the early hype around the sector created a bunch of expectations, the first iterations of connected devices didn’t truly answer any compelling questions.

This changes as sensor-based tech hits smart homes.

In future things like fall prevention and detection and home healthcare solutions, as well as alarm and home security devices, will be the most likely implementations to truly realize the hype.

The global smart home healthcare market is expected to grow with a CAGR of 38% during 2016 – 2022. In a sign of what’s to come it is interesting to note that the first actual physical homes with HomeKit support built in from the start were recently made available in San Jose, California.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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