July 8, 2014
Wink Hub And App Interconnects Trove Of Smart Gadgets Sold At Home Depot Stores
Gerard LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Premium home improvement chain Home Depot has been expanding its inventory of smart home gadgets. These gadgets include a variety of home décor and other merchandise that can be controlled by mobile devices. Two years ago, the home improvement retail giant offered 100 items including appliances that can be operated by mobile devices. Now they offer 600, according to Jeff Epstein, vice president of home automation merchandising.
There is currently 2,000 Home Depot stores in the United States and almost everyone will be selling these items in the store and online with software developed by Wink. Some of the new items include light bulbs, lawn sprinklers, water heaters and even appliances. Wink-enabled products will also be sold on Amazon.com.
“We think the Wink platform will make (smart products) more appealing,” Epstein told USA Today’s Wendy Koch, noting the open access software allows communication between gadgets. For example, the light bulb will automatically turn off once the window shade is opened.
“Our goal is to integrate all these platforms," Epstein added.
The Wink app can link close to 60 home devices together, including light bulbs, door locks and window shades.
These items can be remotely operated through a Wink app available on Android and iOS. At the Wink Hub the cost is $50 through Labor Day. If the app is bought along with another connected gadget, the price drops to $25 and if two gadgets are purchased the price is 99 cents for the app.
“When looking for new products and services, we believe it is critical The Home Depot provide our customers the connected home options and convenience they desire – one that is easy, affordable and gives them the choice in products they need. With Wink, we’ve found a partner that supports the industry leading brands we already carry on our shelves and online,” said Epstein in a statement.
Epstein noted there could be energy savings using the Wink-connected devices, such as saving water with lawn sprinklers.
“With the Wink app, our customers can monitor and update their sprinkler system from the same app they're already using to control their smart home,” Rachio CEO Chris Klein said in Wink's announcement of the launch.
Many other companies are adding smart products to their inventory as well.
Staples is expanding its home and office products that can be controlled with the app. Staples Connect will be available in 500 stores at a reduced price covering 150 products from 38 brands, and have the apps to control them for iOS, Android and Windows devices, reports Tech Crunch.
General Electric announced a new line of LED-connected light bulbs priced between $15 and $25. Phillips Hue is also offering a starter pack for $199.
“Kidde has been a leader in combining innovative technology with life safety products to offer simple solutions for homeowners. Kidde’s Wireless Talking alarms link together so that when one sounds, they all sound, and thanks to Wink, they can also alert users who aren’t home. Wink’s focus on simplicity and accessibility makes it a great fit for homeowners. We look forward to working with them, The Home Depot and other leading brands on this new solution,” said Jim Ward, president of Kidde Fire Safety, a global leader of fire safety products.
“We’re excited to partner with Wink to provide homeowners with another simple and convenient way to access their home locks. With Kwikset SmartCode 910 Deadbolts and the Wink app, customers can remotely check their door lock status while on the go and lock or unlock their doors from wherever they may be. This is the type of convenience our customers crave, and we’re thrilled to be working with Wink to deliver it,” said Keith Brandon, director, residential access solutions at Kwikset.
The smart home industry is growing at an expeditious rate. Last year 11 million units were sold at a cost of $1.4 billion. It is expected to increase to 25 million units at $3.6 billion by 2018.
“It’s about things happening around you, allowing you to simply go about your day but with the house responding to, a) keep you secure, b) avoid problems or disasters, and c) save you money,” Jeff Hagins, CTO and co-founder of SmartThings said in an interview with TechCrunch. “Automatically detecting problems like a water leak or flood and shutting off the main water valve to the house to prevent a disaster, turning off lights automatically based on ambient lighting, time of day and room occupancy in order to save energy … Smart Homes adapt to the rhythm of the household, save money, and increase peace of mind,” he added.
“Another way to future proof hardware is by using devices that comply with existing standards,” Hagins added. “In the home automation space, standards like Zigbee and Z-Wave have been widely adopted and are supported by a variety of different home automation system vendors. Builders can safely adopt these standards and start to build homes that incorporate these connected devices and have confident that the consumer can bring their own home automation system and it will work with those devices because they are standards compliant.”
With any new technology that is transmitted over the airwaves, there is always a concern of privacy and security.
Brett Worthington, vice president for partners at Wink, says the company doesn’t ask for any personal information, and Peter Gerstberger from Staples says the only use of the data they receive is to market and educate consumers about the smart home products.
“Lifestyle applications have a lot more meaning to the everyday consumer because they are shopping for products and brands, they’re not shopping for home automation,” Worthington said.