In a darkened master bedroom, David Kaiserman stood in shirtsleeves next to a turned-down king bed. “Good morning, Siri,” he said to the iPad in his hand, and the lights went on while the blackout shades retracted.
“Your home is ready to rise and shine,” the virtual assistant replied.
Inside this four-bedroom stucco house in Alameda, California, Kaiserman, president of the technology division at construction company Lennar Corp., was pitching a vision of a home controlled via iPhone or iPad.
Tap your phone, and AC/DC’s “Back in Black” blasts. Tap again, and the bath runs at a blissful 101 degrees. Sweet, right? Of course, your dad might view it as a bit over the top. All told, $30,000 worth of gadgets and gizmos were on display here, many run with Apple’s free HomeKit app.
As iPhone sales growth slows, Apple is teaming up with a handful of builders and using these kinds of test beds to inch its way into the market for Internet-connected home furnishings, a nascent field that has attracted rivals like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc.
The gamble is that pricey wireless home devices will be an easier sell when bundled into the home itself. Builders market granite countertops and brushed-nickel fixtures at thousands of models homes across the U.S. Why not video doorbells?
Unlike Google and Amazon, however, Apple isn’t hawking hardware meant to connect the home. Instead, the HomeKit app could increase the value of its iOS ecosystem — and make it tougher for users to switch to Android phones and tablets.
“We want to bring home automation to the mainstream,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of product marketing. “The best place to start is at the beginning, when a house is just being created.”