It seems that home automation is the big thing this year. Until not long ago home automation systems were expensive, required specialized knowledge to setup and install and not compatible with just about anything you'd want to use them with...
Behind the scenes standards to get devices talking together like ZWave, X10 and Zigbee started to take shape, and devices to take advantage of those standards are starting to become more common. This year, Belkin and several other manufacturers have worked to bring home automation into the mainstream.
Quirky has rolled out it's system known as Wink, you've probably seen the commercials for the system featuring the couple with the robot butler. Wink uses the Zwave standard which is supported by Nest, GE (which Quirky has a partnership with), Schlage, Kwickset, Lutron and several other companies.
We picked up the Wink hub and so far are using it to connect and control the Schlage keypad deadbolt. The hub is a "simple" device, no buttons, switches, or even a display all it has is one multicolored indicator light. To configure it, you download and install the Wink app on your iPhone or Android phone, and plug in the hub. The app uses Bluetooth to configure the hub, pulling your WiFi settings from your phone and importing them to the hub, it took just a few seconds to get the hub online and on to our network.
Once the hub is on the network the app will see it and allow you to add devices, The app provides the instructions and in some cases videos that show you how to connect your compatible device and in most cases the process should be pretty simple. Connecting up our Schlage lock wasn't quite as easy. The instructions provided by the app say that connecting should be simply a matter of extending the deadbolt and entering the programming code, which didn't actually work. It took a look at the Schlage website to discover that the lock needed to be reset in order to prepare it to connect. Once connected the lock worked as expected - swipe a button to lock, swipe again to unlock.
There are a few things I don't like... Range appears to be an issue, while not indicated by Wink or the app - Schlage recommends the hub be within 6 feet of the lock when pairing, and I could only pair it when the hub was that close to the lock. Once the hub was paired to the lock and connected it could be moved further away from the lock, however the further away from the lock you place the hub, the slower the lock response to a command.
In order to keep the interface as simple as possible, the app provides very little information. There doesn't appear to be a way to determine if the hub is actually connected to a device or if it's out of range. This isn't much of a problem, except when you're trying to determine the best placement for the hub in your home.
Overall though, Quirky's Wink Hub looks like a promising device, and we have several more compatible devices on their way over the next few months. I'm excited to see what we can do with it...