Brian White On iWatch Home Automation

11 October 2013

Brian White, via MacRumors:

As an Apple supplier, our contact offered insight into the “iWatch” and described this potential new device as much more than an extension of your iPhone but as a multi-purpose gateway in allowing consumers to control their home (i.e., heating/cooling, lights, audio, video, etc.).

White’s analyst notes should never be taken at face value; his track record indicate that he either has the worst sources in the world or he randomly makes stuff up.

I am only referring to him as a point of discussion. Home automation on the iWatch — or other smartwatches — is an area that hasn’t really been touched upon before. I suppose it is a neat addition. Controlling lights and appliances via your phone is all well and good, but there is a physical barrier to that. As intimate as a phone is, it is normally found stuffed in the depths of a pocket. A smartwatch has inherent advantages in doing small, basic things really quickly.

In terms of implementation though, the reality of Apple getting into home automation is a mess. Customers need new light fittings, new appliances, new plugs, new everything to take advantage of this stuff in addition to the iWatch itself. The system would also need to be contextually driven. With constrained screen real estate, the UI would have to prioritise showing the controllable lights and smart devices that are in close proximity (i.e. the same room) to the user. It’d be tricky to do well, but not impossible.

Due to the additional hardware requirements, though, I feel that this will be an area Apple will cede to third-party developers to solve. Right now, the chance that this is a headline 1.0 iWatch feature — in my mind — is very small.