Right now, piecing together a smart home, your very own domicile outfitted to perfectly fit your life, is a confusing cobweb of wireless standards, compatibility, and brands — lots and lots of brands. But the first step into this brave new connected world is just giving your home awareness, and that’s what Belkin WeMo’s new sensors, just announced at CES, are all about.
WeMo’s philosophy isn’t radically different from other stalwart smart home competition, primarily Samsung’s own home automation arm SmartThings. Similar to what SmartThings introduced with its massively successful Kickstarter in 2012, WeMo offers a similar piecemeal approach to giving your house or apartment, whether brand new or decades old, a few more IQ points. WeMo already offers bunches and bunches of smart switches and plugs that can let you control sprinklers, lights, televisions, or whatever through WeMo’s free app. These four new sensors improve WeMo’s currently limited smarts to offer awareness of not only what’s going on in your home but also the people who are living in it.
Clockwise top left: Alarm Sensor, Door and Window Sensor, Keychain Sensor, and Room Motion Sensor.
The keychain sensor and door sensor pretty much explain themselves. Any window or door equipped with the sensor will send alerts telling you when someone’s home or a window has been left open.
WeMo’s new motion sensor uses infrared to detect movement and can be daisy-chained with WeMo-integrated lights that can turn on whenever movement is detected.
The last gadget, called the WeMo Alarm sensor, aims to turn your busted old fire or carbon monoxide alarm in a Nest Protect — or at the very least, something close to it. The small puck-shaped device hunts for specific frequencies used by alarms and alerts you when one goes off.
WeMo says they’re focused on bite-sized, affordable smart home sensors that are completely portable and adjustable, meaning you don’t need some two-floor Colonial and a mortgage to start investing in the Internet of Things. These are sensors that you can pop off the wall and take with you, a pretty good solution if you’re a habitual renter. All of WeMo’s sensors connect together with the WeMo link, a WiFi to Zigbee bridge. All these sensors will be up for grabs in the latter half of 2015, but prices haven’t been nailed down yet.
Through the limited walkthroughs I’ve seen, I’m not completely convinced that WeMo has quite the ecosystem or inventive open-source community as companies like SmartThings, but WeMo is making a serious play for your smart home affections. At CES, the company also announced two advanced sensors that can measure all the electricity or water being used in the home. Hooked into your home’s breaker box and plumping system, these gadgets use what WeMo calls “Echo Technology” to analyse specific signatures or vibrations to determine where power and water is being drawn from. That data is then spit out into a friendly, consumable chart that tells you where you could have potential leaks or power drain, so that you can fix any problems and save a ton of cash. These sensors are currently being field tested and no released date has been announced.
Smart homes are still seen as playthings for techy, early adopters, but simple and complex sensors like these can help the automation-curious get started or add more useful data to a smart home pro’s arsenal. But bottom line: it needs to be easy. These big companies jockeying for your smart home bucks aren’t there yet, but CES 2015 is only evidence that they’re closer than they have ever been.