Apple HomeKit Connected Home Devices Debut


The first wave of Apple HomeKit connected home automation products are hitting store shelves this week.

HomeKit is finally here. Apple's smart home hardware partners have loosed the first volley of HomeKit-enabled devices. Consumers will now be able to adjust their thermostat or turn off their lights right from their iPhone or iPad. There are a lot of moving parts making it all work. 

Apple first announced HomeKit at WWDC 2014. This week's release of HomeKit gear arrives just ahead of WWDC 2015. HomeKit is something developers add to their own apps for controlling connected devices. HomeKit is not a stand-alone app on the iPhone or iPad; rather, it's the underlying backbone that ties everything together. It works with Siri, Apple's voice-activated assistant, and can respond to user requests to perform select actions. 

There are four products that have HomeKit built in. 

First up is SmartHome's Insteon Hub Pro. This hub is a cetral server that interacts with Apple's HomeKit in addition to Insteon's existing connected devices. The hub can tell light switches to turn on or off, read door sensors, and manage user-defined schedules. The SmartHome Insteon Hub Pro costs $150 and is expected to ship in July. 

Lutron debuted a line of light switches and dimmers called Caseta Wireless. The starter kit, available directly from Apple Stores, costs a hefty $230 and includes a handful of different products. The kit comes with a HomeKit-enabled Smart Bridge, two dimmers, two remotes, and two pedestals for addition dimmers/switches. Lutron's app is available to the iPhone and the Apple Watch, which means people can dim the lights by talking to their wearable. 

If you're looking for a connected thermostat, perhaps ecobee3 will do the trick. This HomeKit-compatible device is WiFi-enabled and can be controlled remotely from iPhones or iPads. It can detect when no one is home, so it doesn't waste energy maintaining the temperature of an empty house. The ecobee3 is also available from the Apple Store and it costs $250. 

The last in today's set of launch products includes Elgato's Eve line of products. Elgato offers a range of sensors for monitoring different aspects of a home. Eve Room, for example, checks indoor air stats, while Eve Weather handles outdoor air. The Eve Door & Window sensors are able to keep an eye on your doors and windows and sends alerts if/when they are opened. The Eve Energy product be used to manage electrical outlets. Prices range from $40 to $80. 

None of these products would work with Siri were it not for HomeKit and the efforts of developers. Apple said we can expect more HomeKit stuff later this summer.

Google is working on its own connected device Platform called Brillo and Weave. Android handsets will have access to these platforms after the launch of Android M, later this year. Google already has some hardware partners lined up to IoT-enable their gear. Samsung plans to step into the IoT ring, too, with its Artik platform. Soon, consumers will be able to control certain functions of their homes with nearly any device. 

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