Welcome to the Wink Home
That feeling you get when your connected home products don’t work together is first-world anxiety at its finest, but it’s a real problem for early adopters trying to create the house of the future. So Home Depot has partnered with tech startup Quirky to sell Wink, a $79 Wi-Fi hub that will allow all of your gadgets to communicate, regardless of who makes them.
Wink’s hub goes on sale at Home Depot on July 7, which is also when the hub’s corresponding iOS and Android apps go live, and will be on sale for $49 through Labor Day (to compete with the price drop on the refreshed Staples Connect hub). I got a sneak peek of how Wink will give you control over your home with just the tap of an app at a New York press event this week.
To hub or not to hub
Wink will work with 60 compatible products from 15 partner companies out of the box, including Philips Hue bulbs, Honeywell smart thermostats, Dropcam Pro, and Quirky’s own Aros window air-conditioner. Some of the gadgets around your house, like the Hue bulbs and Dropcam Pro, are Wink-ready without the hub, while others, like GE’s high tech wall ovens and Bali blinds, require the hub to pair with the app.
If you buy two Wink-connected products from Home Depot, you can get the hub for as little as 99 cents through Labor Day. A Wink rep told me that setting up the hub and getting all of your devices on board is a piece of cake, even for those of us who aren’t IT professionals.
Walking through the Wink-connected home, I was most surprised by app-controlled window treatments like Lutron’s Serena battery-powered shades. My own IKEA curtains don’t exactly stack up to custom roller or honeycomb-style shades that can be adjusted in in your Wink app settings. I saw this demoed and my lazy side salivated at the prospect of using my phone to open my blinds from the comfort of my bed. Hey, a girl can dream.
Hey, let me in!
You can use Wink to set up IFTTT-style recipes for your house—for instance, when you use the app to open your garage door with Chamberlain’s MyQ garage door opener or universal garage door controller, your Kwikset Smartcode electronic deadbolt unlocks to let you in the house.
Chamberlain’s products will be app-ready, no hub necessary, this August. Kwikset’s products require the hub to connect with your other Wink-compatible devices.
An even smarter smart thermostat
Honeywell’s $249 Wi-Fi smart thermostat isn’t quite as gorgeous as its new $279 Lyric thermostat—actually nowhere near as good-looking—but it’s the only thermostat hooked up to Wink, at least for now. We didn’t love Honeywell’s apps for controlling the thermostat during testing, so Wink might be a better option.
Wink can also add a Lyric-like feature that the smart thermostat lacks: geofencing. You can use the Wink app to trigger your air-conditioning to kick on when you’re nearby, which is exactly what makes Lyric so different from other thermostats. (But still, Lyric is the aesthetic winner here.)
A Wi-Fi water heater isn’t at the top of my connected home wishlist, but if you already own a Rheem Performance Platinum electric or hybrid water heater with the EcoNet Wi-Fi module, you’re in luck: Wink will let you choose your heater’s temperature on the go or adjust it while you’re on vacation. The app will even tell you if something is about to go horribly awry, like if the heater has sprung a leak, so you can quickly call a specialist before a small problem becomes a big disaster.
Another app option
Dropcam is now under Google’s immense umbrella, thanks to last month’s acquisition by Google-owned Nest, but the $200 Dropcam Pro Wi-Fi security camera still plays nice with other products. The company recently opened up an API for developers to come up with ways to bake Dropcam features into their own apps, and Wink is the first partner on board with Dropcam Pro integration. Like many of the other Wink-connected products, Dropcam has its own apps for users to easily monitor their Wi-Fi cameras, but linking up with Wink lets people keep tabs on every element of their connected home without checking in with several different apps.
Lights on, lights off
Wink has several smart lighting partners ready to go right out of the gate, including TCP’s smart LED light bulb starter kits, GE’s recently announced $15 Link bulbs, and Philips Hue lighting systems. Using Wink, you can change the color of your bulbs to a calming purple, or set up your system to automatically turn on or off at certain times of day (like when you wake up or fall asleep). Philips Hue bulbs are already on the market and connect to Wink without the hub. Hue also works with other connected home hubs, like Revolv, but those are far more expensive than Wink.