The connected home is going to become a little less intimidating through a collaboration between Wink, a division of hardware startup leaders Quirky, and North American retailer Home Depot.
Wink, originally designed as single point of origin for all of Quirky’s connected devices, now acts as an app-based hub for myriad companies, many of which have their own smartphone and tablet-based solutions, from Dropcam to Philips to Schlage.
Beginning in early September, customers will be able to head to Home Depot and pick up a number of these products, along with the optional Wink Hub, that work alongside Wink’s Android or iOS app to control various appliances and gadgets around the house.
Wink succeeds for two reasons: it engages in vigorous feature testing with its partner manufacturers, ensuring that all the functionality from the gadget’s own app is translated properly into Wink; and it works exclusively with a retail partner, in this case Home Depot, to ensure that the platform gets as much attention as the products themselves.
Many products in Wink’s catalogue don’t require extra hardware: devices like Dropcam Pro security camera, which connect directly to a router over WiFi, or Philips’ adjustable Hue lights, which require their own hub, can connect to Wink’s app directly.
Products that use Z-Wave or Zigby, low-power mesh wireless protocols that cannot directly communicate with a WiFi router, require the $89.98 Wink Hub — discounted to $49.98 with the purchase of two compatible products.
All products are marked on the box Wink App Compatible, while some also show Wink Hub Required, so there’s no ambiguity as to what hardware is necessary. Most of Wink’s extensive product line, from Lutron light switches to Schlage’s touchscreen deadbolt door lock, have manual overrides that ensure they will work when the power goes out, too.
Perhaps Wink’s best feature is not the fact that it consolidates disparate products of the connected home, but that it allows users to pair them to work together. “Shortcuts” make it easy to quickly turn on a light, or a group of lights, for instance, while “Robots” are easy-to-configure macro-based commands that group products into a single action. This allows users with a Schlage door lock to, once open, turn on a series of lights and open the blinds. “Activities” can also work with a user’s schedule to ensure that lights and other connected devices are working at certain times of the day.
While Home Depot emphasizes the do-it-yourself aspect of the connected home, users will find it relatively unintimidating to approach many of the products Wink is compatible with. It’s not a perfect solution — users of the Nest Learning Thermostat, for instance, will still need a separate app — but Wink goes a long way to making what a year ago seemed impossible, possible.