What it is: Apple ignored a security flaw in HomeKit for six weeks last December.
Here’s the dream about smart homes. By using an app on your smartphone, you can control lights, temperature, and even doors and windows remotely. You could give access codes to a select number of people so they have access to your front door but not to your garage or vice versa. Then you could monitor and watch your home using security cameras.
Unfortunately, anything controlled by a computer can also be hacked. That means hackers could theoretically hack into a smart home and unlock doors, disable burglar alarms, and spy on your own home using its own security cameras. While HomeKit is less open and supposedly more secure than rival smart home frameworks, Apple recently let a security flaw go unmatched for six weeks. That just goes to show you that no matter how much security someone puts in a smart home, there will always be a chance it can be hacked.
That alone means that the smart home (along with smart car to a lesser extent) needs to offer more advantages than potential drawbacks. People accept the potential drawback of dying in a car accident because the benefits of driving are more appealing than the smaller chance of getting into an accident everyday. That’s the same type of thinking people will need to accept smart homes run by HomeKit or other smart home frameworks.
Right now, what’s the advantage of a smart home? Remotely controlling lights, temperature, and locks might seem interesting, but is it really necessary? People adopted smartphones because it’s convenient to be able to reach different people quickly and easily whether through text messages or phone calls all while playing games and browsing the Internet. Why will people adopt smart homes? In other words, what’s the biggest compelling reason to assume the risks of hacking a smart home?
Everyone knows that using a smartphone means their calls can be intercepted and their location can be tracked by others. However, the drawbacks are minimal compared to the vast benefits of using a smartphone. Right now, smart homes offer few compelling advantages and lots of potential disadvantages of hackers hacking and spying on a home. Apple’s slow response to closing a security flaw in HomeKit simply highlights the problems of a smart home even more. If people don’t feel safe in a smart home, they won’t use it. It’s as simple as that.
A smart home must offer a compelling advantage that you can’t get without it just as smartphones offer the ease of communication wherever you might be. Apple’s HomeKit doesn’t offer a compelling reason to use it other than as a toy, which is fine. Most likely, the best uses for a smartphone won’t be in our homes but in our businesses.
A smart business building could monitor who comes and goes at any given time, which is what big companies need to do with their facilities anyway. A smart building simply automates this process and records the data. Rather than hire additional security guards, a smart building would let fewer security guards monitor more area, effectively cutting costs while increasing security.
So the real benefit of a smart home isn’t for home use, but for business use. As people gradually trust smart buildings, they’ll gradually accept smart homes, but likely only for the wealthy at first. Middle class people probably won’t care about a smart home and lower class people definitely won’t. (Yet middle and lower class people all have smartphones, so that just shows the appeal of smartphones despite its drawbacks.)
Don’t worry about creating a smart home. Focus on creating a smart building. Then worry about creating a smart home later, if ever. HomeKit likely will work best for businesses first and homes later. Until HomeKit offers a real reason why homeowners should accept the risks of hacking, HomeKit will likely remain a niche product for the wealthy and for businesses.