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Apple is seeking to revolutionize the smart home experience with the latest version of HomeKit. A recently-granted patent, “Using In-home Location Awareness“, suggests that Apple wants to create a system that automatically takes actions based on user habits, without the need for manual setup.
The temperature and humidity sensors in the latest HomePod, now also enabled in the HomePod mini, are designed to be part of automated systems. Currently, you can create a Shortcut that turns on your heater if the temperature drops below a certain point.
But Apple is looking to eliminate the need for manual setup, allowing your home to automatically perform certain actions based on your habits and location.
The patent states, “Users often perform the same or repeated actions with accessory devices while in a particular location”. Apple wants to make it easier for users by “determining a location of the user, and suggest a corresponding accessory device that a user may want to control or automatically operate a corresponding accessory device based on the location of the mobile device of the user”.
The system would be based on machine learning, allowing the home to learn from user behavior and suggest actions based on their current location. This could include automatically turning on a light, or heater, or even suggesting a scene based on their history of activity with an accessory device.
Apple’s patent suggests combining information from multiple sources, including sensors on the mobile device, motion detectors, and motion sensors in accessory devices to aggregate data regarding the user’s movement in a room or area. The patent also mentions the use of the U1 ultra wideband chip, which is being added to more devices and should extend the system to even more smart home devices.
The patent runs to over 17,000 words and while a large portion of it covers privacy concerns, the majority is about precisely detecting a user’s presence. Apple is seeking to create a system that is not only smart but also eliminates any effort from the user and just works.