With Quirky, the home automation field is about get even more crowded, but a partnership with Home Depot could help it stand out.
Until now, Quirky has been best-known for clever home products such as flexible surge protectors and wine stoppers that keep the bottle from rolling around. Next month, Quirky will spin off a new company called Wink, with a focus on home automation. The New York Times reports that nearly 60 products will be Wink-enabled starting in July, including some from General Electric, Honeywell and Philips.
Home Depot already sells more than 600 home automation products, but says that Wink will be the retailer's “technology partner.” Wink will benefit from displays in nearly all of Home Depot's U.S. stores.
From a technology standpoint, the interesting thing about Wink is that it isn't totally reliant on a hardware “hub” to tie its home automation products together. Some of those products will simply be “Wink app ready,” and will communicate over a home Wi-Fi router. Users can then control all of those devices from a single app.
Wink will offer a $79 hub for devices that aren't Wi-Fi enabled, but the company told the Times that it eventually wants to leave the hub behind. If Wink products can quickly become hub-free, it may help the company stand out from competing efforts such as Staples Connect and Revolv, both of which require more expensive hubs to operate.
Still, it's unclear how much Wink-enabled products will cost, as price remains as big barrier to mainstream home tech adoption. At the same time, the threat of Apple looms large, with home automation support coming in iOS 8, and the possibility of Apple TV acting as a hub. Google is also upping its home automation efforts, with Nest's recent acquisition of Dropcam. So while Quirky and Home Depot claim to have their home automation plans in order, it'll probably be some time before the dust settles.