Home automation, a category more broadly referred to as the “internet of things,” is almost surely going to be a large and growing market in the coming years. And while Apple’s recently announced entry is the forthcoming HomeKit platform, Google has yet to announce anything exactly equivalent. At I/O 2014, however, Google did announce its plan for Nest, and shed much more light on its Android Wear smartwatch operating system.
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Today, an Android developer demoed a system that he already has working which brings home automation to Android Wear. While HomeKit intends to give developers an easy way to connect their apps to partnering hardware manufacturers, Google’s system (or lack thereof) is much more open-ended. In this example, hardware from DroidCK paired with apps that are already in the Play Store work almost seamlessly with an out-of-the-box Samsung Gear Live smartwatch, taking what was already an Android-powered home automation system and extending it to a wearable with little additional work.
The Android Wear device can control devices through Google Now commands as well as on-screen buttons:
Home automation systems aren’t exactly new, and products like Philips Hue lightbulbs and the Nest thermostat have been controllable via our smartphones for quite some time. What we’re only just recently seeing with smartwatches like the Pebble and now Android Wear devices, is this concept becoming much more feasible and readily accessed when it’s needed. Pulling our your phone, unlocking it, and navigating to an app to turn off your lights may actually be less convenient than manually hitting a wall switch a few feet away. But being able to say “Ok Google, turn off the lamp” might be a completely different story.
Google showed us this in an Android Wear promotional video earlier this year:
The rumored Apple iWatch, which is seemingly already being tested by pro athletes, is rumored to have a number of sensors for monitoring health information, and that information will almost surely tie in with HealthKit. But the other big “Kit” that Apple announced at WWDC, HomeKit, seems to also fittingly tie in with a wearable wrist device. That device being an iWatch would mean that the experience we see announced later this year may not be too far off from what we see in the video above.
Comparable to Google’s plan for its Nest brand, Apple just might be building its own “mainstream” smarthome hardware, which would in theory tie the system together from end to end and generally give Apple control over the entire experience. While there’s no way of knowing what specific kind of hardware Apple is working on, lightbulbs, thermostats, and smoke detectors are definitely some of the most obvious candidates. In line with Apple’s no-fragmentation philosophy, all of these Apple-made devices controlled with an Apple-made iWatch would, in theory, be a great solution for home automation.