Belkin

In late 2012 Belkin announced a number of home automation products as the WeMo range. The underlying networking technology used is Wi-Fi.

At CES 2013, Belkin announced the WeMo SMART platform allows companies to bring smart capabilities to their products quickly and without developing a separate hub, by using Belkin's existing WeMo technology, app development and cloud server. This is Belkin's play into the 'Internet of Things'. Jarden Consumer Solutions (JCS), a leading provider of global consumer products brands, will be the first company to partner with WeMo SMART for its Sunbeam, Crock-Pot, Mr. Coffee and Oster brands. The first Jarden products with WeMo will launch later this year, with additional product offerings through 2014.

It will be interesting to see how well this is adopted by appliance manufacturers. The focus will almost certainly be on the USA market initially.

What is WeMo? This animation shows some very simple control scenarios enabled by WeMo:

Installation is by plugging in a module, selecting its corresponding broadcast SSID from within iOS then launch the free app to switch the device onto your home WiFi network. You need to repeat this step to add each device or sensor. You are then able to configure and control them from anywhere on your local network or from a remote Internet connection. The system supports remote access without further setup, since modules are registered to the app.

Switch

Switch
The switch module has a manual button to toggle appliances on or off. This is an essential feature of these types of modules in our view. At £40 each, these are expensive when compared to their Z-Wave equivalents.

Motion

motion sensor
The motion and switch bundle (£80 in the UK) is a clunky way to provide some kind of sensing and interaction. The wired PIR (motion sensor) has limited applications due to the wired connection back to the switch module, which also has no manual control button.

iOS App

WeMo iOS app
The controller app (iOS only for now) is only really going to enable basic automation and control. The use of an app to set up simple schedules and to directly (and remotely) control devices is not really that useful, beyond occasional use and its initial novelty factor.

Baby

Belkin WeMo Baby
Belkin has announced the launch of its WeMo Baby device that turns any iOS device into a digital baby monitor. Comprising a Wi-Fi connecting baby monitor and an accompanying iOS app, the WeMo Baby lets anxious parents listen to high-quality audio remotely.

Netcam

Belkin Netcam
Belkin's new NetCam security camera comes with night vision and lets you monitor your home from anywhere using a smartphone or tablet. The device supports 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and captures JPEG stills and video in MJPEG format at resolutions of 160x120, 320x240 and 640x480 at up to 30 fps.

Netcam HD

Belkin Netcam HD
Launched at CES 2013, this new netcam HD IP network camera supports 720p resolution.

IFTTT

WeMo works with IFTTT (If This Then That), which allows WeMo equipment to react to something changing on a website. We like this site a lot but, it's more about information flows and notifications, than home automation. The level of integration is quite minimal.

Summary

In our view, this is another 'entry level' suite of products into the increasingly crowded end of the home automation market. It introduces yet another set of interfaces and standards. It is squarely aimed at the hobbyist market and is not really a serious technology for robust and extensible home automation.

The fact that it is only controlled by the Belkin app is a major limitation. The IFTTT integration is a nice touch but, doesn't really add much in the way of flexible control.

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