Apple to Make Smart Houses

Apple is working with companies like Lennar Corp, KB Home and Brookfield Residential Properties to build and test these "Apple houses," according to a Bloomberg report, although there's no timeline for the houses to go on sale to the public.

The houses are not being built by Apple, but by professional homebuilders, which all have different approaches to the smart home. But Apple is helping the companies understand the HomeKit platform, the various vendors who are making HomeKit products, and its security features.

Purchasing a house with smart devices already installed doesn't appear to come at a discount. The $30,000 worth of products inside the Alameda home included devices like Lutron's automated shading system, which starts at $349, and the Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt, which retails for $199. As Bloomberg pointed out, "a regular deadbolt fetches $32 at Home Depot—and there’s always hiding a key under the flower pot."

One example of why people might want an Apple house: they can tell Siri, Apple's voice assistant, to say, turn on the lights, or get the coffee maker started, or unlock the door even when they're miles away.

Apple's vice president of product marketing, Greg Joswiak, said that the company's goal with these so-called "test beds" of internet-connected smart homes is to eventually introduce complete home automation into a mainstream market, which could otherwise be tricky if users have to go out and buy dozens of separately-sold products. As such, Joswiak concluded that "the best place to start is at the beginning."

Joswiak added that Apple wants "to bring home automation to the mainstream."

All the same, some people watching the rise in connected home devices believe "the hype may be getting ahead of the reality," with examples given centering around products like a wireless onesie for a baby that can turn on lights and play soothing music when the child stirs. IDC analyst Jonathan Gaw cited "useless" products like the smartphone-controlled candle LuDela, which "only hurts the message. It tells people that we have gone too far. There’s too much crap out there, it’s only diluting stuff that’s really cool.”

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