Originally Posted by mstone
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum
I think they should and probably will, but it has nothing to do with iBeacons.
To summarize, I am sticking to my narrative that:
iBeacon does only one thing, sends out BT identifiers. It is not connected to the Internet or communicating with the receiving device or a server.
HomeKit needs to be in the foreground to issue any commands and in my opinion it is generally going to be more trouble than it is worth to turn on a simple light using your iPhone and an iBeacon rather than just turning on a switch.
I still fail to see how iBeacons offer any useful functionality in a typical home.
Retrofitting a residence for automation is going to be a lot more expensive than many people think.
Security is going to be a major challenge for any remote access to appliances and the setup/configuration of a home-based digital hub, router or automation appliance will likely be a complex task.
The current crop of automation devices use the cloud and the developers' servers. Any commands that you want to send to your device have to be issued from the developers' server by way of the device polling the server for messages, probably on port 443. Otherwise the communication isn't likely to make it through the WiFi security settings.
Although an iOS app can communicate directly to the device through BT, communicating to a device over a private network is also problematic because default WiFi security settings do not allow devices to connect to one another on the private network, although custom configurations could override that default.
Without special port forwarding network protocols like iMessage, FaceTime and Back to my Mac, direct access to appliances from a remote location will not work due to default security configurations, DHCP and dynamic IPs on typical home WiFi.
I would imagine those types of protocols are similar to the way it will probably work under HomeKit.
But it is all just a guess since Apple has revealed very little so far.
It is very Apple-like to release a new technology then enhance it later ... We can easily remember when the only way a developer could write iPhone apps was as browser apps.
Apple was rumored/expected to enhance/update iBeacon tech at WWDC 2014 ... Nada!
You are correct, that currently an iBeacon is limited to what it can do -- basically identify itself and supply a rudimentary distance (signal strength) from to the receiver. The distance lets the receiver calculate how close he is to the iBeacon. This is of little value unless the receiver knows the geo-coordinates of the iBeacon.
Here is a simple, optional, enhancement that Apple could make to the protocol -- lets call it iBeacon 2. In addition to the identifier and 2 16-bit data fields, Apple could broadcast the granular parts of longitude and latitude -- maybe another 8-16 bytes.
The longitude/latitude would be stored in the flash of the iBeacon when it was setup or moved.
Then, any receiver would be able to trilaterate his geo-location from three nearby iBeacons and know where he is within 4-8 feet. If the iBeacons were in a shopping mall, campus, hospital, airport, etc. the receiver could access a rudimentary layout over nearby WiFi and display a map/floorplan of the facility -- showing where the user is and how to get to nearby destination ... granular, indoor turn-by-turn navigation.
Not bad, eh?
Other, inexpensive iBeacons in the home/office could use these additional bytes * to Broadcast things like time-stamped motion activity (our motion detector), time-stamped temperature (room thermometer), time-stamped moisture level (garden soil/rain/flood detection).
* these iBeacons wouldn't need to broadcast their geo-location as the iPhone or controller knows where they were placed when they were set pup.
Most (if not all) current iBeacon devices have an ARM CPU, some flash memory, sensors, and a <$2 battery that will last 2 years. An enhanced broadcast stream might require require a larger <$4 battery.
It is interesting to note that some iBeacons do not offer replaceable batteries ... Their stance is that the tech is advancing so fast that you are likely to replace the iBeacon for a better model before the battery dies.
Your point about WiFi connections on the same network is well taken. I've read that Apple may use NFC and/or BLE to facilitate these connections -- including ToouchID for authorization.
Some final thoughts:
- Apple bought PrimeSense IR motion detection (Kinect, and 3D mapping chip, IR and Cameras)
- Apple bought WiFiSlam WiFi motion detection (indoor mapping and tracking)
Either or both of these technologies can be used in HomeKit (or BusinessKit/EnterpriseKit) along with iBeacons. As described above, iBeacons can refine the indoor location/mapping tracking process by providing inexpensive lighthouses at known locations along the way.
If you already have installed expensive/complex sensors and controllers retrofitting the residence might be a problem ... but it will less of one as time/tech progresses. The new devices will be faster, cheaper, more sophisticated/simpler ... now, where did I put all those CDs
Your point about current automation devices using/requiring 3rd-part web servers is valid. The WWDC HomeKit presos emphasized security and privacy as integral parts of Apple's solution. If you have intelligent devices at both ends (offsite iPhone talking to HomeKit controller), nothing need be sent unencrypted or in the clear. In fact you could send tokens representing actions known only to both ends ... and these could be randomized by a key known only to both ends ... and the randomizing key could be periodically reset ...
It doesn't make sense to do this on inexpensive, specialized iBeacons or HomeKit accessories -- but it's a natural for the iPhone and an AppleTV class HomeKit controller.
In re setting up HomeKit devices. The tool that Apple provides to developers is drop-dead easy.
For example to add an accessory you enter:
Accessory Name : You specify (must be unique within the home)
Manufacturer: Printed and/or (barcode) on the accessory/packaging
Model Number: Printed and/or (barcode) on the accessory/packaging
Serial Number: Printed and/or (barcode) on the accessory/packaging *
You can send a command to the accessory to identify itself -- flash, buzz, vibrate
It's as easy, if not easier than setting up the Phillips Hue.
Even better, the Accessory manufacturers can provide automatic setup apps -- where you run the app on your iPhone, scan the barcode on the package and it fills in the rest -- even suggesting unique names.Edited by Dick Applebaum - 7/13/14 at 4:20pm