What if the smart devices around your home could all interact with each other, even if they were from different manufacturers or different systems? Say your front door sensor could trigger a light to turn on in the living room when you get home. Currently, to get this kind of interoperability, you either need to acquire all the components of the same system (like Insteon), or have one agnostic hub that tries to “talk” all the different languages of the smart home landscape (like Staples Connect, SmartThings, and the dreadful Wink).
What if there was another way? What if each of your home devices could speak the same langauge independent of manufacturer? An Elgato door sensor that opens when you get home could tell an Ecobee thermostat to turn house temp to 72 degrees. Or turning off a specific Lutron light switch in the bedroom could tell the August front door to lock? That’s the promise of Apple’s HomeKit.
Much has been written already about HomeKit. But now that Apple is officially allowing vendors to start selling devices, we are finally starting to get a better understanding of what can and can’t be done with HomeKit. At first, my thought was that the iPhone now becomes the “hub” to control the devices of your home, but that was the wrong way to think about HomeKit. HomeKit is much more far reaching.
I recently upgraded my Lutron Caseta hub to the new HomeKit version. Despite the process being much harder than it should have been to migrate to the new hub, I wanted that first glimpse of HomeKit. Upon doing so, I now had the ability to create rooms and devices that were cataloged by HomeKit and now also had the ability to use voice to control things. But the first “wow” moment was when I decided to open the Elgato Eve app on my iPhone. I had recently ordered some of the new Eve products and wanted to see what the app looked like.
To my surprise, all the Lutron Caseta lights automatically displayed in the Eve app, with device names and rooms already in place. Even better, I could control all the lights directly from the Eve app! When I opened the Eve app on my iPad, the same was also true. Lutron doesn’t make an iPad version of their app, but here I was controlling the Caseta lights with a totally separate app from Elgato.
That is the power of HomeKit. It is the ability to standardize the language spoken by all your smart home things. So that these things can all interact with each other and can be controlled by multiple iOS devices without one needing to be a central control point. It’s finally a hubless smart home hub. :-)
With additional HomeKit accessories being launched later this month and at the beginning of July, this will be an exciting time for those of us who follow smart home news. Along with Lutron and Elgato products, Insteon, iHome, and Ecobee have also announced HomeKit compatible products. Be warned though, to utilize these new features, new hardware will be required.