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Apple's HomeKit is ready to shake up the connected home market

Susie Ochs | Sept. 9, 2014
Its success depends on developers making great software and devices, and Apple being able to convince users that those devices are not just worthwhile, but secure.

Software makes thing smarter

As device makers get their gadgets certified in the HomeKit program (think of that part like the Made for iPhone program for connected home products), and software developers write apps to control them, the possibilities go way beyond Wi-Fi cameras and thermostats. For example, Velvetwire is even adding Bluetooth LE to its next-gen Powerslayer USB charger, expressly to make it a HomeKit hub, or bridge, for small, USB-powered devices.

Now why would a USB charger need Bluetooth LE? Powerslayer chargers already have embedded software to detect when a device is fully charged and stop the flow of power. Bluetooth will allow for even smarter, interactive charging, so you can tell the charger through an app that you're in a hurry, and get extra-fast charging from the "quick boost" feature. A Bluetooth Powerslayer could even act as a HomeKit-compatible power strip for small USB-powered devices. That way, a tiny company that wanted to make a USB lamp wouldn't need to go through the whole HomeKit device certification process, and FCC wireless clearance. They'd just have to write HomeKit software for iOS that could communicate with the device over the Powerslayer's Bluetooth. Add battery backup to that lamp, and Powerslayer could make sure to charge that battery at night when electricity is cheaper, adding an extra layer of efficiency.

As more companies announce their HomeKit plans, expect more surprising "I never would have thought of that" moments. All Apple will have to do is devote some retail space to the best and brightest HomeKit-compatible gadgets, and maybe roll out a heart-tugging commercial or two showing happy iPhone users being embraced by user-friendly homes of the future. Well, then there's just the little matter of convincing users that these things are not just convenient but also absolutely secure.

 

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