Apple’s HomeKit Can Now Run Your Lights, Shades, AC, and More
Smartphones, meet smart homes.
Today, the first devices for Apple’s Homekit—a platform that lets you dim the lights or turn up the AC at the tap of an iPhone, or for the sloths among us, by commanding Siri—is going on sale: they include thermostat controls, light-dimmers, air quality controllers, and a centralized hub.
Lutron’s lighting kit and Insteon’s home system will go on sale today, and three other gadgets manufactured by other companies will begin shipping in July. Elgato makes sensors that can detect the air quality and energy use in your home, as well as whether your windows are open or closed. iHome is a power outlet that lets you turn ordinary, non-smart devices on and off remotely, and Ecobee is a smart thermostat.
The product launches coincide exactly one year, to the day, after the unveiling of HomeKit, a software platform that was included in iOS 8. HomeKit isn’t an app itself, but rather a system on which different smart home devices can communicate with each other.
For example, Lutron’s “smart bridge” system, which acts as a messenger between your iPhone and smart devices, should theoretically work with any smart lights and shades that are compatible with HomeKit.
HomeKit has the ability to divide your house into different zones, so that the devices for each room don’t have to be controlled individually. For instance, a user could tell Siri to turn on all the lights upstairs or downstairs.
For products that add little functionality to your home besides convenience, HomeKit devices are pricey. Lutron’s starter kit, which includes the smart bridge and a few light panels, is priced at $229.95, and Ecobee’s smart thermostat is sold for $249.
Apple’s next developer’s conference is next Monday, where we may hear more details about the HomeKit system.