WeMo, Controlling Your Home From Afar…
© 2012 BOB SKIDMORE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Over 700,000 apps are now available for the iPhone/iPad/iPod, but do any allow you to control your home’s electrical devices? Belkin, a leading manufacturer of computer, tablet and smartphone peripherals, recently introduced WeMo, a series of plug-in modules that do just that when used with your Wi-Fi network.
So, how does it work? Presently there are two modules available that plug into your standard electrical wall outlet. The first module is a SWITCH that connects with any *120 volt, 15 amp (1800 watt) device such as heaters, portable air conditioners, lights, coffee makers, etc and includes a manual override button with a Wi-Fi signal strength indicator that’s also found on the MOTION.
(TIP: A unique application could be to reboot a device such as a DVR that’s frozen and can’t be viewed from afar via a Sling Box without momentarily cutting off the power to it.)
Once the SWITCH and the device are connected you may control the operation of the device via your iPhone (3GS+), iPod Touch (3rdGen+) and all models of the iPad, with a FREE WeMo app available from Apple’s App store. Android smartphones may be compatible in the near future. Sounds easy, and it is. The second module is known as MOTION and is used to control the SWITCH when the MOTION module detects any movement in its path and leaves the device on when set in the default mode. When used with a FREE web service from ifttt.com it can send you a text or email alerting you that MOTION has detected some sort of movement in its path, now making it a low cost security device.
(TIP: *WeMo is currently available in the U. S. & U. K. and will soon be released in France and Germany, followed by a world-wide roll-out in 2013. Naturally, those models will be designed with the proper plugs and voltage/wattage specifications and will vary according to country. Operation from your iPhone/iPad/iPod is via the Internet and not country dependent.)
The WeMo app offers a wide range of fine tuning settings known as RULES. These RULES allow you to go beyond simple manual on/off operation. You can now program specific times, duration of operation, and days of operation as well as sensitivity of motion detection to activate the SWITCH. Once again, you can be alerted when these activities take place if you subscribe to ifttt.com.
(TIP: ifttt.com (If This Then That) offers many features for expanding this device including the possibility of having a lamp momentarily turn on when you receive an email or a Facebook mention. Ifttt is certainly not limited to WeMo and may benefit you in many other ways. Worth checking out!)
Installation and operation are relatively easy. Belkin has provided a special WeMo customer support team specifically for this product that’s accessible by phone, on-line chat, email or user blog in the event you need assistance. Belkin’s customer service after the sale, is excellent!
I’ve tested this product extensively and find it to be well worth the investment. The SWITCH is available separately since the app can support up to 32 of them, or as a kit with the MOTION module included.
MSRP: $99.95 (kit) $49.95 (SWITCH or MOTION module only)
Available on line and at various retailers. For more information:
GADGETEER’S RATING: *****
Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or followed at twitter.com/bskidmore for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost for the articles and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.