Authorization software protocols
Envisioneering Group's Doherty explained to EE Times that back in the era of CEbus (a set of electrical standards and communication protocols for electronic devices to transmit commands and data), "home networking was seen through hardware eyes." But today, "it is trusted authorization software protocols." In the IoT era, you need to "deputize" devices, letting the home network know that "it's OK, he is with me."
Armed with hundreds of millions of iTune accounts already held by consumers who trust Apple with their account payment information, Apple hopes to milk that bond. Doherty predicts that those consumers "will trust Apple [to accurately identify] that the thermostat and doorbell are indeed theirs and theirs alone."
While declining to explain details, Marvell's Poulidis agrees: "Security is paramount in the way Apple is deploying the HomeKit."
Since some IoT devices are too small to incorporate an LED or a display, Apple's iPhone comes in handy as the indispensable screen to set up IoT devices and automatically connect them to the home network.
Creating a "scene"
But the raison d'être of Apple's HomeKit isn't just about turning an iPhone or iPad into the smart home's all-purpose remote control.
Apple's HomeKit framework helps users create and set up a specific "scene," according to Apple. For example, users can turn the home network into a "night mode" so that lighting throughout the home can be turned off and locks turned on. When a "vacation mode" kicks in, lighting could get randomly turned on and off, a sprinkler is switched on at a scheduled time, and the motion sensor system is triggered.
What Apple's HomeKit brings to home automation devices.
By promoting a common protocol for home automation devices and making a public API available for configuring and communicating with those devices, Apple is making the home network easy for both users and system vendors.
Without the HomeKit framework, the application that users would need to control their appliances, for example, must be independently created by an individual system vendor. And it would be too time consuming for consumers to create a specific use-case that must be applied to individual devices.
Next page: Marvell's three IoT chips