Apple Watch Aims to Reinvent Home Automation

For years, I’ve considered the wristwatch a generational barometer. I was born in 1970 and have worn a watch for as long as I can remember. I started off with a Mickey Mouse model, then went through a Swatch phase before moving on to a Casio calculator model, then graduating to a Gucci and eventually settled on a luxury Swiss dive model when I could finally afford it. I got it in 2003 and still wear it literally 24/7, and I can’t tell you how many times a day I roll my left wrist over to check the time or date.

I notice other people my age and older are also usually wearing watches. Some as jewelry or fashion pieces, but most as functional timepieces because, well, they just always have and that’s what they’re comfortable with. But people born after the late ’80s just don’t seem to wear watches anymore. That generation prefers referring to an omnipresent smartphone.

Apple recently announced details on its long-awaited Apple Watch. With a starting price of $349, the watch became available on April 24, meaning at least some of you reading this are wearing a watch on your wrist for the first time in many years.

There was certainly a massive wearables trend at this year’s International CES, and there are definitely facets of the Apple Watch that seem very appealing—and certainly far beyond the realm of just being a timepiece. With health monitoring, alerts, messages, phone calls, and the ability to use Apple Pay to spend money more securely and quickly than ever before, telling time seems to be one of the Watch’s ancillary functions.

More exciting for me are the potential benefits the Apple Watch could bring to home automation and control. I already use my iPhone and iPad to interact with virtually every aspect of my Control4, Crestron, and Lutron controlled home, so could my wrist become the next point of must-have control?

Honeywell, Lutron, and have already announced Apple Watch apps, which will offer simple and intuitive interaction with your home’s HVAC, lighting, and security systems, but the Apple Watch could harness geofencing and Siri voice control to facilitate automation in new and exciting ways.

Geofencing uses GPS or other radio signals to define geographical boundaries to create a virtual barrier, and once this barrier is broken, events or activities can be triggered. Imagine leaving your “house boundary” and having the doors lock, the lights turn off, the security arm, and the HVAC go into an away mode, all automatically. With locational awareness, the watch could know which room you are in and automatically configure itself to control that for you. Say, walking into your bedroom and knowing the TV you want to control, or walking into any room and just tapping the watch to turn on the lights.

Crestron offers something similar with its PP-100 PinPoint Proximity Detection Beacon, which can tell iOS devices which room they are in; but the watch could take these features to the next level, and the company is already looking at ways to integrate its automation systems with the Watch.

Apple certainly has a track record for reinventing or reimagining a product category as they did with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. And these iDevices all went on to play huge roles in the tech industry, literally reshaping the way systems were designed, installed, and used. Will Apple’s spin be enough to make wearing a watch cool and necessary again? Time will tell.

Tangential's picture

Is home automation really necessary? The Apple Watch certainly is fascinating in terms of how it uses technology, but along with the iPhone I'm afraid I just find it completely pointless and irrelevant. Surely if I want to turn the lights on, physcially pressing a switch is much more economical way of doing it?!

John Sciacca's picture
I'll tell you the same thing that I tell customers when they ask me if they *need* to buy don't *need* any of this stuff. You don't need a TV, you don't need a sound system, you don't need any automation. But these things can all help to make your life more enjoyable, and in the case of automated lighting, once you've lived with it, you will definitely get that it is far more than just pressing a switch. One of the very best and most "life practical" pieces of automation I have in my home is a garage door opener that I can control with my iPhone. To not have to get up and physically check that the garage door is closed when my wife asks was WELL worth the $100. I'm not sure that the Apple Watch will be a killer app for automation, but it certainly lends itself to some very cool possibilities... Best, John
Tangential's picture

True - but $100! That's maybe £65 - could watch a couple of Premier League games for that - just saying :)

Mono's picture

Why buy an over priced device that does what your phone does? And it hardly does that well. Small screen, terrible battery life and it does a fraction of what your smartphone does. I don't know about the rest of you but I'll stick to my watch which has a battery life of 3yrs give or take. And hypothetically if I were to buy a smartwatch, it wouldn't be an apple watch.

Tangential's picture

The truth is that these devices are nothing more than a testament to human laziness. People can't be bothered to wait till they get home to their laptop to see who's messaged them on the Facebook, or check their emails. People can't be bothered to switch a light off any more they have to have technology do it for them.

LeeWP's picture

This is such a cool advancement. I can't wait to start seeing how far this reaches into home automation and home security, it just has such awesome possibilities. I recently had a full home automation installation at my house, where I got excellent installation and customer service from Wipliance ( by the way, and I hope that soon I am able to pair up all of this home automation technology even further with things like the Apple Watch.