Google made a big push into the home automation market earlier this year when it acquired Nest Labs for $3.2 billion. The purchase gave Google access to the engineers behind the popular Nest Learning Thermostat and the controversial Nest Protect smoke/carbon monoxide detector.
We are now hearing word from Financial Times that Apple is looking to enter the home automation space with a “Smart Home” initiative that will kick off next month at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The details of Apple’s system were first revealed in a patent filing last year, but the time is now for Apple to introduce the functionality according to Financial Times.
The earlier filing (Patent No. 8,577,392) described how an iPhone or iPad could be used to control “lighting systems, security systems, garage-door openers, music controllers, climate controllers, or kitchen appliances” – in fact it could be similar in scope to AirPlay and iBeacon, but geared towards home automation products and appliances.
Apple sees its Smart Home system as being superior to other “automatic operations” that are currently on the market:
Automatic operations are frequently sub-optimal due to variations in a person's daily routines. A person can leave work at different times each day, can encounter different traffic patterns, or can exhibit different hunger levels. Thus, unpredictable events and emotions can make it difficult to establish automatic operations that consistently produce desired results.
The Financial Times gives the example of how a homeowner’s lights could be turned simply by entering the home with an iPhone in his or her pocket.
Apple is reportedly talking to several manufacturers that make “smart” products and appliances that will be certified for use with Smart Home. Apple is looking to make all of its iOS-based devices (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Apple TV) compliant with Smart Home in an effort to lock more people into its ecosystem.