Since Apple unveiled its HomeKit framework for letting connected devices work with iPhones and iPads, there have been a lot of questions about how the program will be implemented and lot more speculation. It’s safe to say that the HomeKit certification requires a Made for iPhone license that will control how the device will connect to a Wi-Fi network and ties into the Apple products.
And now we expect a slew of the HomeKit products to launch at CES in January. This week iDevices, the maker of the iGrill meat thermometer that connects to your iOS device, said it would launch new products at CES that will work with Apple’s HomeKit framework. Other sources participating in the program confirmed that time frame, although with Apple it’s possible that it might change at the last minute.
What’s more interesting about the iDevices release was that it said it had spent $10 million preparing for the [company]Apple[/company] HomeKit program, which seems like an incredibly high number. From the release:
The release goes on to add that [company]iDevices[/company] plans to also launch partnerships with other companies that will use its HomeKit platform (which includes voice control via Siri). So what exactly did that $10 million go to? I asked the company and received the following reply via email:
That doesn’t give me a lot to go on, but it helps, especially if iDevices views its HomeKit work as something it can sell to partners outside of the tech industry. Avon, Connecticut-based iDevices isn’t the only company that sees potential in helping companies build HomeKit certified-products. I met last month with Litehouse.io, a startup founded in January by former Intel and Amazon executives to create a Wi-Fi module and voice recognition SDK that hardware companies could embed in their products.
Nahid Alam, the CEO and co-founder of Litehouse, told me that in the near term, the company is offering a module that provides Wi-Fi and voice recognition built in and is pre-certified under Apple’s Made for iPhone program. Eventually, the idea is to provide a software platform that a company can license to run on any hardware that’s certified. Companies like Broadcom, Atmel and others all provide Made For iPhone-certified chips.
While the looming launch of HomeKit products will make consumers feel a bit more comfortable buying connected devices, it’s clear that startups see an opportunity to build tools in voice recognition and possibly device management to help others handle the nitty-gritty technical details that need to be present to really make something work with a system as complicated as the internet of things.
Thus Litehouse, iDevices and even companies such as Wit.ai, which is providing a natural language processing engine for developers, are all trying to fill in the blanks and build a business while doing so. Many of these startups will likely get bought by whatever companies emerge as the systems integrators on the consumer-facing internet of things. Some, of course, will not. But what makes this space so fun right now, is that since we haven’t really figured out the framework for the consumer internet of things yet, anyone who wants to throw an idea at the wall and see what sticks has a chance.