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This Apple patent could lead to a much smarter smart home

You could soon have a much smarter smart home, if you’re an Apple user.

Apple’s HomeKit was a great first step into the smart home market for the company, but if these new patents are anything to go by, Apple is set to play a much bigger part in the smart home landscape.

The patent is for “aggregating user routines in an automated environment,” and details a way for the smart home to be controlled based on user habits, especially in a family setting, largely detected through the iPhone and Apple Watch.

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Through the system, iPhones and Apple Watches will find patterns in user behavior and then trigger smart home devices according to that behavior. So, if it knows that when you get home from work you normally switch on the lights, TV, and heater, it could have these things ready to go for when you get home.

Like other systems on the market, the patent describes a local device called the “coordinator” — in other words, a smart home hub.

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Of course, to get to a point where it can accurately predict your intent, the coordinator will first have to gather data on your routines. For this the system will use location data such as GPS, but it will also collect data about the state of different smart home devices throughout the day. Not only that, but sensors like the accelerometer, gyroscopes, and other motion sensors could be used to determine how a user moves and when — things like when a user is sleeping or when they’re moving around the house. The coordinator will also use data from multiple users — for example if a family rather than one person is living inside the home.

Using data from multiple users, the system can then compare and contrast different user preferences and routines, making decisions by monitoring users in real time.

This won’t be Apple’s first venture into the smart home, but it will shift the focus away from the iPhone, which currently acts as the control hub through HomeKit. While this new system does seem to be drastically different from anything offered in HomeKit, however, we should still expect to see HomeKit at the center of Apple’s smart home vision for at least the next year or so — Apple is even rumored to be working on a standalone “Home” app.