Apple HomeKit Automation Gear Sees Slow Ramp

The first products to take advantage of Apple's home automation technology won't likely reach stores until this spring.

HomeKit, the software that allows consumers to use their iPhones like remote controls to activate various automated appliances. Among the reasons for the delay, the launch of HomeKit enabled hardware certification efforts began latter than Apple had hoped.

Apple's rigorous performance standards for chip makers and hardware manufacturers also have contributed to the wait. The tech giant didn't release specifications to chip makers until October.

Broadcom has been shipping chips to device makers that would allow iPhones to control connected appliances through Bluetooth Smart and WiFi. The company is not yet ready with its fully certified software.

"Like AirPlay, Apple wants very tight tolerances to deliver what they believe to be the best experience," says analyst Patrick Moorhead. "On the one hand the slower time to market is trying to 'fix' what a plethora of companies haven't gotten right yet".

Some HomeKit devices are trickling out.

1. GridConnect has a product called ConnectSense Smart Outlet. This is an internet connected electrical socket that turns ordinary household appliances, like lamps, into devices that can be controlled using Siri on the iPhone or iPad.

2. Schlage has the Schlage Sense deadbolt which allows iPhone owners to enter their homes with a simple spoken command, 'unlock my door', uttered through Siri. It also can be programmed as one in a series of cascading events that happens automatically in what Apple is calling "Scenes", in which the lights turn off, the front door locks and the thermostat adjusts with a single command, such as "I'm going out".

"We are excited to have a growing number of partners committed to bringing HomeKit products to market, including several announced at CES", said Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller. "HomeKit offers a set of common protocols making it easier for customers to control HomeKit enabled accessories using Siri or iOS apps. HomeKit is built on a secure foundation with end to end encryption which provides customers a secure connection between their iPhone or iPad and HomeKit accessories."

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