CES

2015 - Day 1

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CESWEB.ORG #CES2015 70 | 2015 INTERNATIONAL CES DAILY | JANUARY 6-9, 2015 SMART HOME BY STEWART WOLPIN T hanks to the iOS ecosystem and the expan- sive iPhone and iPad accessory ecosystem, Apple has always had a virtual presence at International CES that obviates its need to actually show up. But this week, the Cupertino giant's shad- ow will fall over the Smart Home Marketplace in the second level of the Sands Convention Center and in any booth displaying smart-home products thanks to its new HomeKit platform. A cornucopia of companies have indicated inten- tions to introduce HomeKit-compliant products af- ter Broadcom (Sands MP25667), Marvell (Venetian Level 3 Murano 3304-5-6) and Texas Instruments (Zigbee Alliance booth Sands 71023) started ship- ping the f rst HomeKit chips last November. Even though the f rmware will still likely need to be updated, Brian Bedrosian, senior director of em- bedded wireless in the mobile and wireless group at Broadcom, told Forbes that "everyone's getting ready. Expect to see new product launches in the next cycle of product releases." But at press time, only two companies were ready to announce what will likely be the first Home- Kit-compatible products — CES exhibitors iDe- vice (South Hall 3 31712) and iHome (Central Hall 9024), both of whom will be showing and will soon start selling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Smart-endowed connected AC plugs. Users will be able to control, monitor and sched- ule whatever is plugged into these AC outlets. The iDe- vice Switch, scheduled to go on sale before the sum- mer, employs an Apple TV as a bridge to the Cloud, giving users the freedom to manage their home from anywhere via the iDevices Connected app. Direct ac- cess to the iDevices Cloud — for users who don't have an Apple TV — will be added after the switch's launch. Also through the iDevices Connected app, users will be able to design custom events or schedules; the iDevices Switch can remember events and per- form actions when the user is away, as well as create International CES Is Launching Pad For First Apple HomeKit Products events that link products, rooms or the whole home. Users can upload photos of their home, rooms and products to the iDevices Connected app to add a personal touch and improve visual navigation. Physically, the switch has a nightlight that can be personalized to match any room in the house, and is compact enough to not block adjacent outlets. The iHome HomeKit iSP5 Smart Plug, which works with the company's iHome Control App, is covered with a durable rubberized cabinet finish and also has a slim design that leaves the second outlet on a dual AC wall socket free; no pricing or shipping date was available at press time. Other CES exhibitors that have announced their intention to develop HomeKit products, and that could make HomeKit announcements of their own this week at CES, include Chamberlain (Venetian Palazzo Hospitality Suites), Elgato (booth 70837), Haier (booth 9405), Honeywell (booth 70637), Kwikset (booth 71021), Netatmo (booth 72905), Os- ram Sylvania (booth 71023), Philips (booths 71023), Schlage (booth 21000) and Withings (74301). But what, exactly, is HomeKit? HomeKit is an iOS 8 "framework" designed to facilitate communi- cate with and to control connected devices in a us- er's home. Users can discover and conf gure Home- Kit-compliant devices and accessories, create actions to control those devices either singularly, several si- multaneously or in group actions, all via a single iOS HomeKit app, via specif c device maker apps that share a common HomeKit UI, or via Siri voice con- trol — just tell your device what to do. For instance, a consumer could shout out, "Go- ing to bed!" and Siri will see to it that the HomeKit- complaint garage door is closed, the HomeKit-com- plaint door lock is bolted, the HomeKit-complaint thermostat is lowered, and the HomeKit-complaint lights are dimmed. No clapping, no app booting, no hubs, no bridges, no subscriptions needed. But will HomeKit play nicely with other smart- home platforms, or will Apple simply co-opt the smart-home business the way it has co-opted most other business segments it has decided to dominate? The answers may be yes and yes. From the play nice side, Brett Worthington, VP of Wink, doesn't see a conf ict. "There's a lot of speculation about Apple HomeKit and exactly how it will evolve over time. Like many, Apple is seeking to develop a standard framework in which the IoT can operate, and their choice for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth without Cloud connectivity acting as the bridge means it's quite different than what we're doing. However, we hope to integrate Apple's HomeKit lan- guage and functionality into Wink in the future, fur- thering our belief in consumer choice." Not surprisingly, Broadcom, which makes chips for the iPhone and the upcoming Apple Watch, also sees HomeKit as a smart-home segment savior. Bedrosian told Forbes that the smart-home space has "been a real fragmented market for a long time. It's critical to certi- fy the interoperability of devices and make sure every- thing can join to a network. One thing HomeKit pro- vides is the bridging protocols for various devices to connect simply by Wi-Fi to the Cloud. "The goal is to create a better consumer experi- ence for the iOS ecosystem and provide a simplif ed and unif ed approach to control home devices," Ber- osian continued. "We're just starting to see the f rst wave of many products." More predictably cynical, some analysts see HomeKit as be yet another way Apple is transform- ing themselves into a new Ma Bell, Big Brother or some other evil omnipresent family member. "[HomeKit] is clearly a play to be that core con- nectivity provider that provides platform manage- ment, to keep Apple at the center of control," noted Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI Research, "even if it's not making the device, to keep that con- nection. They're building an ecosystem, but they're careful to put themselves where it matters – in day- to-day management." "If Apple designs the platform, or 'framework,' as they call it, to integrate and coordinate a wide vari- ety of devices, it will be a contender to lead the mar- ket, at least in the U.S.," agreed Bill Ablondi, direc- tor of smart-home strategies for Strategy Analytics. iDevice's Switch

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