Another day, another product is added to the ever-growing “smart home” industry. Just last week, GE announced a $15 smart LED bulb along with a slew of other “connected” devices from its partnership with invention company Quirky.
Still, ask an average person if they’ve heard of Quirky and you might find yourself explaining the concept. Ask the same person if they’ve heard of Home Depot and the reaction would be the complete opposite.
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To make smart home products more accessible and less confusing for the mass market, Home Depot has teamed up with Quirky-owned Wink to create a line of connected devices that are centralized into one place: The Wink Hub.
This $49 hub contains all the techy goodness that puts your “dumb” products on the Web with popular connection protocols: ZigBee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, to name a few. All the user has to do is set up the hub, purchase a Wink-certified product and scan the barcode of the item to connect it to your home network.
The current Home Depot-Wink line works with a ton of popular home improvement brands, such as Chamberlain (garage door openers), Honeywell (thermostat), Rheem (water heater) and GE (lighting and kitchen appliances).
Once connected, all the devices are controllable from within the Wink app. Users can set up timers, alerts, proximity settings and shortcuts. The app is available in both iOS and Android, with added compatibility for Android Wear.
The Wink Hub connects to your home network without requiring Ethernet, so you can place it anywhere around the house.
We stopped by the companies’ “Wink House” set up today and the app worked as advertised. The option to set up a one-click shortcut for various settings (such as Sleep to turn all the blinds and lights off and lock doors) is useful truly automating your home from a touch of a finger. It only takes about a second for the command to register from the app to seeing things in action, such as the lights changing colors or the garage door closing.
The Wink initiative is similar to Apple’s recently announced HomeKit, except Home Depot and Wink will also provide a 24/7 help line with a human representative to troubleshoot possible issues.
For the tech-savvy, the Wink hub and its line of connected products may not be the most exciting thing out there, but for the average consumer looking to get into home automation, it’s a simple solution that comes with familiar, well-trusted names.
The $49 (initial reports named the price at $79) Wink Hub, and all additional the connected products, will be available on July 7 in Home Depot stores, online and at Amazon.com. If purchased with a Wink-compatible product, the Hub will cost $24.99; if purchased with two or more products, the Wink Hub goes for 99 cents.