With the huge amount of VC money pouring into the smart home sector, you’d think the big guys were also getting serious about the space.
Well, it appears that they are. This week news broke that Apple had applied for a patent for a “smart dock” that would continuously listen for voice commands via Siri, perhaps the most definitive sign so far that Apple will eventually release an “iHome” smart home control system at some point.
And leveraging Siri makes a lot of sense. After all, if you’re Apple – a tech giant with a ton of core differentiating technologies and dominant platform with hundreds of millions of users -you dance with the one who brung ya. In other words, by leveraging Siri and iOS technologies to fuel continued demand in your core markets while also fueling a fast start into in a wholly new, adjacent market (i.e. smart home sensors, docks and more; i.e. iHome).
While this all makes sense from a strategy perspective, I do have to wonder if consumers will bite (or talk)? While more consumers are starting to use downloadable iOS apps to change the TV channel or control their networked audio player, these apps have been around for around 5 years and traditional tactile control interfaces still rule by a large margin.
Add in the fact that there have been reports of general clunkiness around Kinect voice commands for the new Xbox One and the lack of adoption of voice control technology implemented by the likes of LG and Samsung for their smart TVs, and one has to wonder if home voice control is more, to use a cliche, a solution looking for a problem.
Maybe. But since Apple has a proven track record in creating demand for products where there was none before, I wouldn’t count them out. However, if you asked Siri, I think she’d tell you that so far not too many people have asked how to control their home with their voice.