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Sunday, October 25, 2020

“Wink” at The Home Depot: Emerging #IoT Ecosystem?

Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, July 10, 2014
6:10 pm

Today, I learned from a USA Today article that The Home Depot and Amazon.com have begun to offer home automation devices that work with the Wink app and home automation Wink Hub

Boosting your home’s IQ got easier Monday as The Home Depot began selling a collection of nearly 60 gadgets that can be controlled by mobile devices, including light bulbs, lawn sprinklers and water heaters.

I quickly found that homedepot.com offers more Wink devices on line that does Amazon.com – interesting that the orange bastion of brick and mortar DIY sales seems to be besting Amazon at its own game!

I jumped in my pickup and drove to the nearest Home Depot store – and there it was – a Wink end cap, stationed right between the aisles offering water heaters and replacement toilets. The display wasn’t pretty, but it was there.  I could have loaded up a cart full of water sprinkler controllers, video cameras, door locks, smoke alarms, LED lights, motion sensors and more – all controllable via Wink. Pretty impressive, actually.

HomeDepotWink

Two things are significant here:

  1. The Wink ecosystem for connecting many devices from multiple vendors seems to be emerging more quickly than systems promised by Apple and Google.
  2. The Home Depot is the epitome of American mainstream – making it available to the common folks, not just techno-geeks.  Heck, I was in the Home Depot store three times last Saturday alone to pick up stuff. That’s mainstream.

It is going to be really interesting to see how this stuff becomes part of “The Fabric of our Lives.”

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#IoT: iHouse, House+ or SmartHome? Something else?

Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
3:18 pm

Recently, there has been a flurry of articles about IoT and home automation, spurred by Apple’s announcement of HomeKit and Google’s announcement that Nest is buying DropCam. Yesterday, I read an interesting article about how WSJ Tech Columnist Christopher Mims visited SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson to “see how he’s turned his home into one of the “smartest” homes in America.”

Smarthome

I applaud this focus on an area of technology that could indeed be of direct benefit to my family and me. But it also raises questions:

As an Mac, iPhone and iPad user, will I be able to extend the useful Apple platform in to a virtual iHouse?

Will Google/Nest/DropCam morph into a useful House+ platform?  Will it interoperate with my Apple stuff or will I have to switch?

Will another more independent company such as SmartThings really make possible a SmartHome?

How much of this will be really useful and easy to use, rather than be a series of geeky science fair projects?  

It was interesting to read Christopher Mims comments about how SmartThings home automation does lots of cool stuff, but not necessarily in an easier way.  Maybe using an iPhone to control everything isn’t really easier than using fashioned light switches or manually adjusting old thermostats.

What I hope emerges are systems that deliver real value to me while being drop-dead simple to use.  Here are a few things I really look forward to:

  1. Coordination of all four AC/Heating zones and ten ceiling fans in my house for optimum comfort and electricity savings, rather than just individual controls provided by Nest and others.
  2. Coordinated control of all ten irrigation circuits for our yard (both sprinkler and drip irrigation) based on weather reports, humidity sensors and soil moisture sensors to optimize water savings and plant health.
  3. Integration of home alarm, garage door and car ignition controls into a single device, preferably my phone, to minimize my frustration and size of my key chain.

The state of the industry right now seems a little bit like the computer industry in the IMSAI computer kit era, when hobbyists could buy lots of components and patch together (sort of) working computers.  Hopefully, the recent IoT announcements will bring real progress beyond the hobbyist phase.

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