Belkin WeMo Home Automation
Belkin's WeMo is a family of switches and motion sensors that allow you to connect with and control home appliances via the Internet. In the near future, it promises to give you remote control of your lighting, kitchen appliances and other devices. But at what price? Let's take a look at this emerging technology...
A Connected Crock Pot?
Belkin Corp. is getting serious about the Internet of Things, forming partnerships with thing-makers to connect all sorts of things via their WeMo gadgets to the Internet, mobile devices, and ultimately to you. What is WeMo, and what can it do?
Mr. Coffee introduced a Belkin WeMo-controlled coffeemaker at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. Now your coffee pot can remind you the night before to fill the grounds basket and water reservoir. You can adjust the start of brewing time and brew strength remotely, from your smartphone. This model also brews coffee 26% faster than ordinary coffeemakers, perhaps its most significant feature.
Osram Sylvania’s new line of ULTRA iQ LED Lamps allow users to control lighting via smartphones, tablets, wireless remote controls, even motion and photo sensors.
The Crock-Pot® Smart Slow Cooker With Belkin WeMo® lets you “adjust cook time, temperature, and more” via a mobile device and Belkin’s free WeMo app. I’m not sure what “more” needs adjusting but it’s probably in the user manual.
Crock-Pot®, Holmes®, and other familiar household appliance brands are owned by Jarden Consumer Solutions. Belkin and Jarden are planning a big push of WeMo-integrated products. At the Consumer Electronics Show, Holmes® offered three products - a space heater, an air purifier, and a humidifier - remotely controlled by Belkin WeMo.
Some WeMo applications seem very cool, indeed; of course, they’re the ones that aren’t here yet. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night, hungry for a snack, and having soft, red light come on as you stumble sleepily to the kitchen, then shut off when you leave. That’s one of the cooler future applications that Sylvania has in store.
What's the Cost of WeMo Wonders?
The Sylvania ULTRA iQ LED Lamp is not a standalone lightbulb that you can simply screw into a socket; it doesn’t even work with traditional on/off or dimmer switches. You also need a WeMo-based wireless controller hub; Lowe’s will sell you their Iris brand, starting at $179. The lamps themselves cost between $22 and $38 apiece on Amazon. The Sylvania lamp supposedly lasts 35,000 hours vs. 500 hours for an equivalent incandescent bulb, and uses only 11 watts instead of 65.
The Holmes® products each list for $200, so it takes $600 to get a “large” room warmed up with air that won’t trigger allergies or nosebleeds. The WeMo-enabled Crock-Pot® lists for $130; Amazon currently has some for $100; ominously, they are advertised as “used.” Mr. Coffee with WeMo has no MSRP as of this writing, but a Consumer Reports test-drive mentioned $150. That sounds about right, as coffee is more important than food.
These products automatically connect to a home WiFi network when plugged in; no Sylvania-style hub controller is required. But still, we’re talking $880 for five common household appliances!
You can buy a 12-cup programmable coffee maker for under $20 at many department stores. There's a Honeywell HEPA air purifier for $42 via Amazon. My Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier was $30 at Walmart. Total cost of the non-WeMo way: $92.
Some pundits (and companies that sell home automation appliances) marvel about the future of life with appliances that can be connected to and controlled by computers and smartphones. But it seems inevitable to me that the Internet of Things will be a hacker's playground. Will someone find a way to make your wifi-connected crock pot send spam, instead of cooking a roast? Will your web-connected Mr. Coffee will keep you up all night, instead of waking you up in the morning? And can you still turn off the lights if you lose your phone? We'll soon be finding out.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 29 Sep 2014
|For Fun: Buy Bob a Snickers.|
Tox: Skype With Privacy
The Top Twenty
Shellshock! Are You Vulnerable?
There's more reader feedback... See all 25 comments for this article.
Post your Comments, Questions or Suggestions
Free Tech Support -- Ask Bob Rankin
Subscribe to AskBobRankin Updates: Free Newsletter
Copyright © 2005
- Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved
Article information: AskBobRankin -- Belkin WeMo Home Automation (Posted: 29 Sep 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved