The smart home stands to become as fragmented and brand-focused as the smartphone, with dozens of companies releasing new automated appliances almost every day. All of these gadgets have different standards and are often tied into a specific mobile OS or company’s product line. Quirky, the New York startup that turns all sorts of wild inventions into reality hopes to unify the industry with its Wink hub and app.
The Wink app already controls Quirky’s popular Aros smart air conditioner, allowing users to set timers, change temperatures, and monitor energy usage for the Aros AC. Wink also powers several other inventions produced by Quirky, including a mouse trap, pet food dispenser, air purifier, and more. Now, the New York Times reports that the startup is working with 15 different companies and plans to introduce almost 60 new Wink-enabled products in July.
Quirky hopes that Wink will become the only app any smart home appliance owner needs.
Big-name companies such as Honeywell, General Electric, and Phillips are already onboard, as are a few startups. Quirky also has a special deal with the Home Depot to sell these products all over the United States. By July 7, almost all of the Home Depot’s 2,000 stores will feature dedicated displays for Wink and will stock a large number of products, bearing the mark “Wink app ready” or “Wink app compatible.”
Those products that are Wink app ready only need a Wi-Fi connection to sync up with the app on the home owner’s iPhone or Android smartphone. However, the products that are only compatible with Wink, will require the purchase of the Wink Hub, an $80 gadget that translates the command sent from the Wink app before it reaches the appliance. The Wink Hub will work with Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, and the open Internet standard, so as to be compatible with nearly every type of wireless connectivity imaginable.
The Hub will be available for purchase online and in Home Depot stores on July 7. The Wink app will arrive in both the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store the same day.
Once you download the app and purchase the Wink Hub, you’ll be able to control any Wink-friendly appliance or smart home gadget you purchase. Quirky believes that the key to bringing the smart home to mainstream Americans, is making all the smart appliances easier to control. After all, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of apps you already have on your smartphone, without adding a different app for each smart light bulb and fridge you own.
Quirky hopes that Wink will become the only app any smart home appliance owner needs. It will, however, face competition from Apple’s upcoming HomeKit, which will soon be available when iOS 8 is released. Google’s purchase of Nest could also throw a wrench in Quirky’s plans.
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