Las Vegas - With more than a dozen companies unleashing new smart-home platforms at CES, Apple's HomeKit could be a unifying factor to attract consumers to the DIY smart-home concept.
Three companies that are announcing HomeKit-compatible gear — iDevices, Schlage and Chamberlain — explained their smart wares and the HomeKit platform at a PowerSession on Monday morning, moderated by Brian Bedrosian, senior director of embedded wireless products at chipmaker Broadcom.
Rather than a proprietary platform such as Wink, Belkin's WeMo or Lowe's Iris, Apple's HomeKit is more of an underlying smart-home platform-agnostic technology. All that's needed is a HomeKit chip set, currently available from Broadcom, Texas Instruments and Marvell.
This spring, iDevices will start shipping the Switch a smart AC plug module that allows a consumer to iPhone/iPad control whatever device is plugged into it. Schlage said its new Schlage Sense lock and app, due to ship this summer, will allow the consumer to use Siri to "talk to unlock." Chamberlain announced it will send a firmware update to make its current MyQ smart garage door opener HomeKit compliant, as soon as Apple makes the firmware update available.
"As a customer, I'm going to walk on an aisle in a store and look at connected products and ask, 'Will this work with my phone?'" said Cory Sorice, marketing connected products and e-commerce VP for Chamberlain. "Compatibility with the device you carry around in your pocket — that's a pretty common denominator."
"Apple wants to bring order to this [smart-home] chaos," opined Chris Allen, iDevice's founder and CEO. "It takes a company like Apple to enable a core of functionality. Consumers want to buy a product from a brand they trust, that will be there. Consumer trust is critical in this space."
"Whole-home control is a niche market," admitted Robert Martens, futurist and director of connectivity platforms for Allegion, Schlage's parent company. "A larger group of people are looking for specific functions or capabilities. If you delight the customer with that capability — I don't need to take my key with me when I go running, I want to know when my 13-year-old daughter comes home — I don't know if [Apple] will bring order, but it will draw people in."