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Place in HomeKit Adds to Insteon’s Momentum

Irvine-based Insteon is among the first companies handpicked by Apple Inc. for the initial lineup of its much-anticipated HomeKit, which offers consumers a selection of services for connected home devices.

Insteon sells a hub that allows users to operate its own line of connected products—such as switches, outlets, thermostats and light bulbs—as well as devices made by other manufacturers.

The product has for some time been available through Amazon and Smarthome.com for $150, with distribution through various retailers expected to begin in early July.

The hub’s inclusion as an approved product in conjunction with Apple’s HomeKit launch adds to the momentum the company has built since the device hit the market a few months ago, according to Insteon Chief Executive Joe Dada.

“For us to be on the ground floor where there’s very limited launch partners, we’re having a big impact,” Dada said.

Other companies with products that will be part of HomeKit include: San Francisco-based wireless sensor maker Elgato Systems; connected thermostat maker Ecobee in Toronto; Coopersburg, Penn.-based wireless lighting hub maker Lutron Electronics Co.; and Rahway, N.J.-based SDI Technologies Inc., the maker of the iHome line of automated products.

The HomeKit allows users to control locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs, switches and other products at home from a single iPhone app.

Insteon hired a small group of engineers to design and develop the new hub, which is based on a custom Linux-based operating system that provides more power than the previous model, according to Dada.

The latest development strengthens Insteon’s ties with the Cupertino-based electronics giant.

Insteon engineers worked with Apple’s noted MFI (made for iPhone) group for about a year in developing the automated technology. The MFI group handles all the accessories Apple approves, as well as the

newly launched Apple Pay and HealthKit platform.

The Business Journal last month reported that Insteon engineers worked with Apple counterparts for months in preparation for the much-hyped release of the Apple Watch.

The watch, synced with an iPhone, allows users to control appliances, lights, thermostats and connected rooms; view camera footage; and monitor various sensors.

The Business Journal estimates Insteon parent SmartLabs Inc. has annual revenue exceeding $200 million, including sales from its Smarthome retail store, which shares Insteon’s headquarters near John Wayne Airport and sells its products.

Broadcom

Irvine-based Broadcom Corp., which is set to be acquired by Avago Technologies Inc. for $37 billion (see related story, page 1), was the first chipmaker to meet HomeKit’s technical specifications for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Smart applications.

Its WICED Smart and Wi-Fi communication chipsets, which allow devices to talk to each other, are a lynchpin in helping manufacturers develop products for HomeKit and the booming Internet of Things market that is expected to hit $7.1 trillion in global sales for components and related equipment by 2020, up 273% from 2013.

Broadcom chipsets have powered roughly 1,500 products since the 2011 launch of the WICED product line. Many are from small and emerging companies, a newer segment Broadcom has targeted in recent years in contrast to its largest customers, Apple and Samsung, which together accounted for 28.2% of the company’s $8.42 billion in revenue last year.

“We’re building long-term relationships,” said Brian Bedrosian, who runs Broadcom’s emerging embedded Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Smart business in the audio, healthcare, home, consumer appliances and industrial segments. 

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