FT: Apple working on home automation software platform

The FT reports Apple (AAPL) plans to show off a software platform that would "turn the iPhone into a remote control for lights, security systems and other household appliances" at its June 2-6 WWDC conference.

Apple's home automation solution will reportedly work with Apple TV (in addition to the iPhone/iPad), and do things such as allow a home’s lights to "automatically come on when the owner enters the house, using their iPhone to wirelessly signal their arrival." The company is said to be talking with OEMs to certify their products.

The report follows Google's $3.2B deal to buy smart thermostat/smoke detector maker Nest Labs, which was founded by iPod "godfather" Tony Fadell and features many other ex-Apple engineers/designers. Last year, Microsoft bought home automation startup R2 Studios, reportedly beating out Apple and Google along the way.

As it is, Apple has launched, or is reported to be launching, a slew of platforms meant to allow iDevices to connect/interact with 3rd-party hardware. Others include CarPlay, iBeacon, and a (rumored) mobile payments service. The company is also expected to launch (via iOS 8) a Healthbook app that will interact with various health sensors, and possibly an iWatch.

Automation hardware/software vendors Control4 (CTRL) and Echelon (ELON) could move on the report. Each shot higher after Google/Nest was announced.

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Comments (29)
  • Matt-Man
    , contributor
    Comments (980) | Send Message
    Sounds like a good new area for Apple. Could make a deal with few bigger house builders in US to start controlling key items making sense like lights, doors, door bell, security cameras, power consumption, solar panels, etc. Having APIs for Nest and similar would make sense as well.


    Would increase Apple stickiness even more
    26 May 2014, 04:03 PM Reply Like
  • duhaus
    , contributor
    Comments (320) | Send Message
    I like the sound of this, this is an exciting time to be an #AAPL shareholder.
    26 May 2014, 04:06 PM Reply Like
  • MacyGirl
    , contributor
    Comments (10) | Send Message
    Yes, IF only people would NOT sell after the split.
    27 May 2014, 06:55 AM Reply Like
  • milehr
    , contributor
    Comments (681) | Send Message
    This is a good business, unlike some stupid headphones.
    26 May 2014, 04:07 PM Reply Like
  • imac007
    , contributor
    Comments (736) | Send Message
    This is about making the human interface and the OS for it. The Internet of Everything is about having technology in almost everything in the environment. It is about making you the remote. You will connect mainly with touch, gestures and voice. It starts by taking things you already wear and make them conduits for voice. Bluetooth headsets, headphones and earbuds, watches, medical alerts and jewelry can all have microphones that connect us to other devices and networks.


    The Verge reported last July that "The worlds of high tech and high fashion collided on Tuesday, when Apple announced the hiring of Paul Deneve, former CEO and president of the iconic Yves Saint Laurent luxury brand. Deneve, 52, will serve as vice president of "special projects" at Apple, reporting directly to company CEO Tim Cook."


    In Nov., 2013, Apple acquired PrimeSense, a 3-D sensing company with potential from gesture recognition for interactivity ranging from gaming to heartbeat monitoring for health applications. It is also used in indoor navigation applications. http://onforb.es/1wg05Qb


    But, we won't need to wear the microphones that act as voice conduits, they will be found in what we already have in the home. Speakers, like the Beats Pill have Bluetooth connectivity with microphone technology allowing voice control of play/pause and volume. Apple bought Novauris http://bit.ly/Q01Sru. They bought Dragon voice recognition in 2005 from ScanSoft which is behind Siri. Their developments have been about embedded and server network use of voice.


    You "wear" technology when you get into a car. It surrounds you there. VW are doing away with mirrors and replacing them with cameras and displays. QNX from BlackBerry is a major player in device connectivity and interactivity. QNX replaced Microsoft for On Star in GM vehicles and now Ford appear to be following suit with Sync. QNX are already used by over 40 car makers. Apple are a strategic partner with QNX http://bit.ly/1mRYzlh. It is a great device to device microkernel OS. I see it becoming part of iOS functionality and the Internet of Everything. Google are taking the car tech to new levels by taking over navigation. Google are also a QNX strategic partner but also a rival in the infotainment market.


    Mirrors can double as displays. Display walls or digital pictures can be interior design elements one moment and double as voice/motion controlled displays the next. Hidden menus and control panels can be voice/motion activated. The next Apple TV rates to have Siri added.


    I think Apple are in stealth mode. They are collecting the pieces for deployment and where Microsoft were the dominant OS for the PC, Apple plans to be the prime connecting OS of the Internet of Everything. A massive deployment using beacons, geofencing, biometric security, voice connection, app connection and cloud integration seem likely. The issue of different device makers using different control systems and command structures is irrelevant when apps connect to the makers directly. Apps stored in an iDevice command center can store configuration/command files generated at setup and modified when needed. That way each device just needs to be connected or paired to a device with a control app in the command center. The command center can be geo-sensitive, offering different control interfaces based on location.


    An iDevices store creates a central marketplace for manufacturers to offer their devices with drop shipping, the App Store could market the control module apps. Subscription services from device makers for server/service options would generate in app purchase revenue of which Apple would get a percentage.


    The trick is to get their first, in a big enough and integrated enough way, that the infrastructure required creates a barrier to entry, and the maturity of development is significant enough, that competitors find themselves years behind, out of the gate.


    When Apple originally released the iPhone they had the music eco-system to leverage. The result was a mass explosion of adoption. Once the eco-system started to mature they brought out the iPad. Its growth was even more impressive capturing even more of that market than the phone market. With the current eco-system in place they own a springboard to launch the most significant technological evolution in history. In 5 years you could be staring in the face of yet another split.
    27 May 2014, 01:21 PM Reply Like
  • carlomiami
    , contributor
    Comments (601) | Send Message
    I see AAPL at $800 very soon with all this .
    Cook was right when he says that many new items are in the pipe line.
    Then there the new phones !, wow , changing $$$$$
    26 May 2014, 04:22 PM Reply Like
  • RipCrackle
    , contributor
    Comments (122) | Send Message
    WOW! I see AAPL at $928.12! This is AMAZING $$$$$
    26 May 2014, 04:34 PM Reply Like
  • King Rat
    , contributor
    Comments (1618) | Send Message
    buy the rumor, sell the news.
    27 May 2014, 03:02 AM Reply Like
  • Matt-Man
    , contributor
    Comments (980) | Send Message
    Just thinking more, Apple could you their working fingerprint scanner as a part of locking system, maybe implementing http://www.skybell.com properly
    26 May 2014, 04:44 PM Reply Like
  • Philip Marlowe
    , contributor
    Comments (1573) | Send Message
    It is clear now that in the near future we will have a lot of small wirelessly connected devices. This is the so called internet of things, which has been talked about for about twenty years but it seems that finally we have the technology to make it happen. Some good ideas for related companies:


    ISSI: These guys make memories (both RAM and FLASH) that can better withstand adverse environmental conditions and are thus suitable for small standalone devices, cars, factories, etc. This used to be a rather boring field, it is about to get very hot.


    SWKS: All those devices will need to connect to the internet/each other wirelessly. There are several companies that make the chips for this, but I believe SWKS is especially well positioned technology wise.
    26 May 2014, 05:44 PM Reply Like
  • Canadian Red Neck
    , contributor
    Comments (396) | Send Message
    According to Transparency Market Research, global home automation market was valued at US$3.6 billion in 2012 and forecasted to be at US$16.4 billion in 2019. Link below:




    If this market value is true, then the question is whether this is an industry that Apple should even bother.


    I built 2 houses for personal use in the last 10 years. Other than some basic automation for heating and cooling, I see no great need for further automation in the house and I like new technology. There are better things for me to spend money on. Am I typical of most home owners?
    26 May 2014, 06:18 PM Reply Like
  • Matt-Man
    , contributor
    Comments (980) | Send Message
    Do not know, Google betting 3.2b for just automated smoke alarm means that at least they and now Apple is disagreeing with you.


    I would not mind to have smarter smoke and CO alarms, battery ends always night time. Finding one beeping one out of more than dozen is painful. Automation of heating, cooling and ventilation can save quite a long penny as well, heating could take into account if anyone is at home rather than manual control. Management of lights based on how dark it is and if there is people present is not bad idea either. Knowing if any window or door is open is good thing in bigger house as well.


    These controls as such are not expensive to make or control, they just need easy and dependable control system.
    26 May 2014, 06:45 PM Reply Like
  • Canadian Red Neck
    , contributor
    Comments (396) | Send Message
    I work in the engineering consulting, construction, oil and gas industry. I am reasonably familiar with building management system, SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) and DCS (Distributed Control System) and have installed some of these systems in major electronic factory and petroleum plant projects.


    Many of these systems are mature systems. Even so, it was not easy to integrate components from various vendors. A house may look simple. That is until you try to integrate and manage various components in the house. Many if not most of these components are beyond the control of Apple. So, all I can say to Apple is "Good Luck". They may be able to transform the home automation industry but it is going to take a long, long time and the financial return may not worth the trouble.


    Apple and Google have more resources than me. They could be right. By the way, Nest had to recall all their smoke alarms recently because of a feature that they thought was good to have. These giants do make mistake once in a while. I think quite a few of Google's projects did not pan out.
    26 May 2014, 07:05 PM Reply Like
  • consultnick
    , contributor
    Comments (356) | Send Message
    Good question Canadian Red Neck, however, to a degree your handle here does somewhat self-identify! You are probably sitting there in your red-checkered flannel shirt, surrounded by caribou in your stunning forest retreat, with the cozy wood stove burning in the corner. It's a good wholesome life, and you deserve it.


    But Gen's X, Y and Z + Millenials--whatever they are--be very different creatures! I have observed them up close and personal--my 30 yr old and his crowd. They would prefer that the toilet paper automatically reorder itself from Amazon, and the fridge re-stock itself--automatically! Lighting and heat are rudimentary entitlements that oughta be provided wherever and whenever they happen to be, with the utility bills automatically deducted from a bit-coin account, itself re-stocked by an automatic bit-coin miner running in the basement....or from their expected/anticipated inexhaustible inheritance!


    They would prefer "Total Automation of Everything"....not just a Smart House. They would prefer never having to break free of their immersion in their smart/snark phones, and that the entire civilization be "automated into a few keystrokes or gestures". Many will happily adapt to self-driven cars, as they will be free to dive even deeper into their smartphone/game worlds whilst commuting--if folks still bother commuting in 20 years!


    Even now, home dinners are served next to their devices, attended to with greater focus than upon the "parent-units" (their words) who lovingly prepared them, and every spare minute that does not absolutely demand their attention immediately gets spent on the smart phone, because it is the font of all good things--objects, services, communications, entertainment, finance, food, events, music....and yes....it's how they get laid! Without total engagement, they might as well be dead. Rapidly run away from one of them that has just recently lost his/.her phone!


    And you ain't seen nothin yet....wait till VR gets rebooted by Facebook/Oculus Rift, when you will come home from a hard days work to witness each family member buried within their own face-mask, each in their own private--and quite possibly pornographic--world. The best you'll be able to do is to make yourself into a pleasing and attention-getting avatar--and join their world...."Hi DAD!"


    I will be delighted to see Apple engage with this unstoppable cultural vector--it is where the power is concentrated. TOTAL AUTOMATION OF EVERYTHING is, unfortunately, inevitable. I just wanna make money from it, and am happy to see Apple playing nice with this revolution. I want them to seize initiatives in this space, and have been disgusted to see others--such as Google--jump in front first with NEST.


    However, I must trot out my favorite maxim from ancient and venerable investment sage Art Cashin:


    "It's the SECOND mouse that gets the cheese!"


    While GOOG/NEST recalls 500,000 defective thermostats that have the potential to burn your house down, Apple enters the Automation arena @ WWDC on June 2nd...Fasten your seatbelt and secure your nausea medication....it's gonna be a wild ride into Fall for the iPhone 6!
    26 May 2014, 07:44 PM Reply Like
  • Canadian Red Neck
    , contributor
    Comments (396) | Send Message
    I am not implying that Apple cannot be successful in home automation. The question is "Is it worth the trouble?" The question to be asked is what is the potential return and in what time frame.


    The other concern is Apple had been very successful in the last three - four products. It now appears that people comes to expect to be hugely successful in every venture. Nothing worst than a disappointment after a string of successes.


    If you are judging me by my handle. You could not be more wrong. Have you ever thought that this handle was chosen to convey a complete opposite personality? The joke is on you.


    I am also involved in research and invention. Presently, I have two patents under review in the States and Canada.


    I am quite familiar with Generation X, Y, Z and Millenials. I have two girls aged 26 and 28. I also know many of their friends as they used to visit our house often. They are quite different from your stereotypes of these generations. Stereotyping is a very dangerous hobby.
    26 May 2014, 11:59 PM Reply Like
  • dan o'
    , contributor
    Comments (8) | Send Message
    I'm own a couple of homes, and until i see something i that's at least marginally essential, i wouldn't retrofit a home...With that said, though, AAPL integration will likely sell a mcmansion far faster than without, and might make it an essential for the above-$400K new housing segment.


    Another caveat though, this is really just a summing up of their philosophy all along, which is to make it so the iPhone is connected with you always. I like their mojo at the moment, but i'm not as sure as the people betting on a $900 share price. I'll be thrilled if that happens, I'm just not sure if it will, though i'll be extra happy if it splits, then goes to 900 :-)
    27 May 2014, 12:24 AM Reply Like
  • shakazoid
    , contributor
    Comments (246) | Send Message
    luv how you sum up the new generation
    27 May 2014, 01:18 AM Reply Like
  • Deja Vu
    , contributor
    Comments (1805) | Send Message
    @Canadian Red Neck


    I hear you on SCADA. Imagining basically rolling out what is the equivalent of a RTU node, securing it, archiving the data, troubleshooting the lost connections, the failed hardware etc for the common man, who also has learn a HMI to go along with his 10,000 other daily worries. More hype than reality....
    27 May 2014, 07:28 AM Reply Like
  • Alfa164ls
    , contributor
    Comments (18) | Send Message
    Can you say Motorola?
    27 May 2014, 07:49 AM Reply Like
  • Charles A. Smith
    , contributor
    Comments (1264) | Send Message
    consultnick...I'm adding you to my followed list for this comment alone! Hilarious.
    27 May 2014, 10:19 AM Reply Like
  • Roger B
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
    Apple is simply "the BEST". Although it has taken sine time, shareholer's patience will be rewarded handsomely.
    26 May 2014, 06:32 PM Reply Like
  • Budavar
    , contributor
    Comments (1404) | Send Message
    AAPL is generating near $One Billion of cash every week. to add to the $150 Billion already in the treasury. Increased the quarterly dividend to $3.29, a 24% jump over its previous payout. Buying back millions of its own shares on a regular basis. Adding geniuses like Angela Ahrendts to the existing ones.


    Deduct the company cash, AAPL still has only a a PER of 10 or 8X free cash flow.


    Please note = every notch up of the PER adds close $50 to the price of AAPL.


    Apple has come a long way since I first visited Cupertino some 30 years ago.


    "The best is yet to come."
    26 May 2014, 07:26 PM Reply Like
  • inside man 55
    , contributor
    Comments (1553) | Send Message
    The previous payout was $3.05, or an increase of 7.8%. Let us not let the facts get in the way of a good story. I like Apple the company, and I have faith that gets converted into AAPL stock going higher. We can still be calm about the stock while still being enthusiastic about the company.
    26 May 2014, 08:30 PM Reply Like
  • MacyGirl
    , contributor
    Comments (10) | Send Message
    I think you meant 24 cents.......
    27 May 2014, 06:55 AM Reply Like
  • King Rat
    , contributor
    Comments (1618) | Send Message
    I have long been a mac user but a lot of these electronic monitoring devices really are a form of home invasion.
    27 May 2014, 03:09 AM Reply Like
  • rsbduff@gmail.com
    , contributor
    Comments (438) | Send Message
    Question Consultnick?


    Haven't you heard.....Gen X,Y, Z, and millenials....are still paying off their student loans, and can't afford to buy a new house......Let alone a high-tech one.


    27 May 2014, 09:04 AM Reply Like
  • Canadian Red Neck
    , contributor
    Comments (396) | Send Message
    Butler/Chef/Personal Shopper/Servant/Housek... Electrician/etc. = Home Automation
    27 May 2014, 09:25 AM Reply Like
  • rovo
    , contributor
    Comments (383) | Send Message
    I think most of the commenters are missing the boat on this news item. I do not believe that Apple has any interest in building or selling these home control devices. What they will be doing is offering up a standard for communications and control of these devices via the iPhone / iPad. This is just another part of their plan to build an economic moat around the iDevices. The CarPlay item does not mean they will build cars and the iHome system does not mean they will build thermostats. The desire is to make the iPhone / iPad the "must have" devices.
    27 May 2014, 10:13 AM Reply Like
  • sandiegosam
    , contributor
    Comments (85) | Send Message
    CTRL will be in trouble if AAPL introduces a viable competitive product. ELON will not - they are an industrial IOT player and working diligently to upgrade the Lonworks platform.
    26 Jul 2014, 09:18 PM Reply Like
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