Dinner isn’t popping out of a kitchen chute à la the Jetsons quite yet, but with the world of home automation growing, houses across the country are inching their way towards a sci-fi warp drive. Belkin, the same company that keeps your gadgets traveling in style, has a suite of products called WeMo that turns nearly anything you can plug into an outlet into an app-operated smart thing. If you’ve been eyeing the world of home automation warily, thinking “I don’t know where to start,” this might be a good Step One.
The WeMo Switch ($49.99 per unit) plugs into any outlet, where it then acts as an ever fancier outlet. The free WeMo app for both Apple and Android syncs to the Switch over your home’s wireless network to control whatever lamp, blender or iron might be plugged into it. (Yes, WeMo finally answers the question “Did I leave the iron on?” because your app will tell you.)
Switch works in tandem with the WeMo app to turn devices on and off from anywhere and even allows you to create rules for the electronics. Out of town for a long weekend? Schedule the Switch to turn lights on in the living room at 6 p.m. every day to keep suspicious eyes at bay. Time a curling iron to turn on in the bathroom every morning at 7 a.m. so that it’ll be ready to go when you walk in bleary-eyed.
The world of WeMo is expanding to make the everyday work for you in even more ways. If it’s just controlling light you’re after, the new WeMo Light Switch replaces ordinary light switches to give the same remote on-off power when away from the house. Coming soon is the Insight Switch, which monitors a device’s energy use and lets you know via app which products shouldn’t stay plugged in all day long, for the sake of the electricity bill.
It’s home automation that doesn’t require a degree from MIT to install.