Apple has unveiled an interactive “smart home experience” in 46 of its retail stores around the world, to give curious customers a better idea of the benefits of HomeKit and smart devices in general.

As initially reported by TechCrunch, these select Apple Stores – 31 in the US and 15 worldwide – have been kitted out with a virtual home stuffed full of smart gadgets. This setup is connected to an iPhone, an iPad, and an Apple Watch, to showcase exactly how those devices work in conjunction with each other. Using Apple’s Home app, users can control lights, fans, security systems, heating, and many more things around the home. Once configured, the devices can also be controlled via Siri, or from remote locations.

The smart home setup in person [image credit: TechCrunch]

This is a clever move on Apple’s part; although many people have heard of the “smart home,” it’s hard to visualize exactly how these systems work without seeing it for yourself. Most people have never come into contact with this stuff, but it’s growing fast and seems ready for the mainstream. A first-hand chance to try out the software without having to buy a lot of pricey tech could encourage more people to get on board with this kind of thing.

Of course, the timing isn’t a coincidence either, with Apple planning to launch its new HomePod device this December to rival the Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers. Making the concept of a smart home more accessible to everyday folk will set up a good basis to launch such a device, and we fully expect the HomePod to become part of this demo setup later this year.