Now Apple’s Home Automation Wants Your Location Data

  • Posted on: 6 November 2013
  • By: Patrick Oliphant

appleApple has made public what I have suspected from a long time, they want a share of the home automation market.  In addition to that they want your location data collected by their iPhone, ipad etc., to provide the service. In 2010/2011 Apple came under a lot of pressure to say why they were collecting customers location data and what they were doing with it.

In response to the concerns raised by customers and lawmakers they published a letter explaining how they collect location data and what they were doing with it. Whether by omission or they didn’t thought about it yet; they didn’t say they were planning to use this data to provide home automation services.

All they said, in a broad statement is, “Apple must be able to determine quickly and precisely where a device is located.  To do this, Apple maintains a secure database containing information regarding known locations of cell towers and Wi-Fi access points.” That the creation of a location database on the phone it to keep in line with the ever-changing physical landscape, more innovative uses of mobile technology, the increasing number of Apple’s users and that the database must be updated continuously to account for these things.

Fast-forward to 2013 and it’s now official, that Apple wants our location data.  They have been granted a Patent on a technical solution that involves the use of our location to help manage and/or monitor our home appliances. In a kind of triangulation the user’s position can be obtain from a number of outlets, such as their hand device or computer login.  Apple want its system to be intelligent so that it reduces users interaction and let it be more of M2M (Machine-to-Machine) solution.

The request was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on June 13, 2012, and granted November 5 2013 with U.S. Patent No. 8,577,392 for a "System and method of determining location of wireless communication devices/persons for controlling/adjusting operation of devices based on the location", according to Appleinsider. “It describes a system that uses data gathered by static and mobile devices, along with wireless communications tech, to determine a user's current and guessed future location. Based on these observations, certain preset functions in the home can be activated or deactivated remotely and automatically.”

Over the past few years, Apple’s iOS and handsets have played a major role in the acceleration of smart home services. The iPhone and iPad have been a choice device to become a remote control for many devices and services in our home. All the major home automation service providers now offer and App for the iphone and iPad so that their customers can manage their systems.

Therefore, it is only obvious that Apple would enter this multi-billion dollar market.  I don’t see them acting as a sole entity in this though. I see them working with specialist solution providers in the home automation space. All the major service provider already have an iOS App the only thing let is for them to integrate it with Apple’s data to broaden their range of services and enhances the users experience on what they already offer.