Analyst: Apple's iWatch could target home automation

Smart watches appear to be the next thing, although whether they'll become a big thing remains to be seen. Apple's so-called iWatch may have the best chance of mass-market success, and it could be somewhat different from smart watches like the Samsung Galaxy Gear and Qualcomm Toq. Instead of serving as little more than a glorified smartphone accessory, the iWatch is reportedly primed to manage home automation. VentureBeat quotes Brian White, an analyst for Cantor Fitzgerald, whose source at an Apple supplier revealed that the iWatch will not only interface with your iPhone, but also serve "as a multi-purpose gateway in allowing consumers to control their home (i.e., heating/cooling, lights, audio, video, etc.)."

As VentureBeat points out, the home automation market is relatively small. Apple has links to it already, though. Former iPod and iPhone team lead Tony Fadell started Nest, which makes intelligent thermostats that are already compatible with iOS devices. The Nest thermostat is sold through Apple's stores, and the company just introduced a smart smoke alarm that's likely to join it on the shelf. Nest likely has other home automation products in the cards, as well.

VentureBeat also suggests that fitness tracking will be a big part of the iWatch's mission. Apple has been working with Nike on fitness-related iPhone accessories for quite some time, and that market seems to be getting bigger. Thanks to the various bands already on the market, there's already an expectation to have to wear something on your wrist.

Around the house, that expectation doesn't exist. But people do tend to carry their smartphones from room to room. I can't imagine an iWatch offering better home automation controls than a handset with a larger display and input area. A lot of us are already controlling our home entertainment systems with our phones, anyway, and home automation software is currently available for both Android and iOS.

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