Geek Girl Report: Turning Your Home Into A “Smart Home” – What To Expect In Upcoming Home Automation Technology
We may still be a long way off from robot maids and food replication devices, but home technology has certainly come a long way. In the new "Smart Homes," it's possible now to control nearly every electronic aspect of your home, from the TVs to the lights to the A/C, all directly from your phone. Home automation systems are nothing new. High-end security companies have been touting this feature for a while now to the folks who can afford it. But with the recently-announced Apple HomeKit hitting the market later this year, Smart Home systems are about to hit the mainstream market in a big way. Here's a quick look forward at what to expect.
HomeKit was just one of many new features announced for iOS 8 at Apple's Worldwide Developers' Conference last week. Just like Passbook keeps all of your ticketing apps together, and the newly-announce Health will keep your health-related apps in one place, HomeKit will allow users to control various appliances around their home, such as lights, thermostats, cameras and doors, directly from their iPhones with a single app. It won't be available until Fall or so, but developers already have their hands on the beta version and are working with Apple to come up with a slew of apps that will be compatible with HomeKit.
Not to be outdone by their eternal rival, Google is working on its own "smart tracking" system. Google Nearby sues a combination of GPS, Bluetooth, and even the phone's microphone to pinpoint the user's exact location and allow the to interact with any nearby compatible device. For example, the system can automatically turn on your lights when it detects you walking up to the door at night, or open your garage door simply on voice command. But Nearby is not just limited to the home. The system can also detect when your friends are nearby, or even when you visit a certain section of a store. You can expect to hear more news about Google Nearby at Google's developers conference later this month.
As I mentioned before, it's not just the major tech corporations getting in on the Smart Home game. While many security and smart home businesses will no doubt be working with Apple and Google's new platforms, some companies are looking to break into the all-in-one Smart Home on their own. For example, Vivint recently announced its new platform Vivint Sky, which the company is calling a "direct competitor" to Apple's HomeKit. The cool thing about Vivint's system is that it will eventually learn your appliance preferences and make intelligent suggestions based on your preferences, such as lowering energy usage when you're at work or out of the house. The only catch is that you must have Vivint-brand devices throughout your home in order for it to work.
Be sure and check out The Geek Girl Report every Tuesday morning only on KFYO.com. And be sure to keep up with me on Twitter as well: @the_littlest_a.