Looks like things are heating up at home. Apple‘s smart home, that is. Joining a relatively few number of companies, Broadcom has just announced that its WICED platform, which stands for Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices, has been certified to comply with Apple’s stringent requirements for HomeKit compatibility. Now anyone who wants to get into the Internet of Things business will be able to easily integrate with Apple’s devices. All they need is to make use of Broadcom’s wireless chips and its WICED SDK.
It’s been nearly a year since Apple first announced HomeKit, but among the other new endeavors it revealed back in June 2014, this has probably been the slowest moving of them all. There was some talk that Apple was late in giving its specs to its hardware partners. Given Apple’s attention to every nitty gritty detail, that might not be far from the truth. There, has, however, been a sudden influx of HomeKit announcements recently, which gives some hope that Apple might be ramping up HomeKit really soon.
Although there are already existing smart home platforms, Apple, of course, wants something that it can fully control from top to bottom. HomeKit offers the most comprehensive integration with Apple’s own devices, providing protocols that would easily identify smart devices and determine how an iPhone or an iPad would interact with them. It is promised to be more consistent than any other home automation communication protocol. And it never hurts to have Apple’s blessing anyway.
Broadcom claims to be the first to meet Apple’s technical requirements for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Smart, and that may be a big deal. Apple’s certification process is known to be quite detailed. But although Broadcom’s WICED platform itself is already certified, device makers making use of its chips will still have to go through the usual Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad process or MFi. Broadcom does offer one interesting feature called bridging. In a nutshell, it can, for example indirectly connect a Bluetooth smart light bulb to a HomeKit app on iOS by going through a Broadcom WICED module, like a smart plug.
Apple remains curiously silent about HomeKit, despite companies like Broadcom, Marvell, and GE throwing in their public support. Cupertino might very well make some noise about it in its developer conference next month, but more people are banking on hearing about a new Apple TV instead.