Many of us expected home automation to take a step forward at CES this year, and Belkin didn't disappoint, announcing a new slate of WeMo devices that promise to make the smart home even smarter. With new LED light bulbs, an intriguing, multifunctional "Maker" device, and even a connected slow cooker, WeMo is looking less and less like a niche offering and more and more like a legitimate, full-fledged home network.
We've already come away impressed with the trio of WeMo switches that Belkin has released thus far, and a lot of what we like about those products will carry through to the new offerings. Everything will integrate into WeMo's existing Android/iOS app, and also into IFTTT, the free automation tool that links social networks, online services, and connected devices like Philips Hue bulbs and the SmartThings suite of sensors. That means that all of the new WeMo products will feature the same wide range of creative functionality that that the existing lineup enjoys.
First among these new members of the WeMo family is the WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set, which consists of two WeMo Smart LED Bulbs and the WeMo Link, a plug-in hub capable of controlling as many as 50 bulbs at once.
Through the WeMo app, which is set to be updated in February, you'll be able to control the bulbs remotely, or automate them to turn on and off at specific times. Belkin is also promising a dedicated Vacation Mode that will help simulate occupancy while you're away from home, as well as the ability to set the lights to gradually brighten when you wake up in the morning.
The Starter Set will retail for $129, with individual bulbs priced at $39 each. This puts the two-bulb WeMo set at a higher price point than the three-bulb Connected by TCP Wireless LED Lighting Kit, which offers additional bulbs for less than $20.
In addition to the new lighting kit, Belkin announced a partnership with Jarden Consumer Solutions, parent company to well-known small appliance brands like Mr. Coffee, Breville, Oster, and Holmes. The first product to stem from this partnership is the Crock-Pot WeMo Smart Slow Cooker, the first device of its kind that puts full time and temperature controls onto your smartphone.
In addition to the WeMo slow cooker, Belkin's CES booth is displaying the Mr. Coffee WeMo Smart Coffee Maker, as well as WeMo-enabled heaters, humidifiers, and air purifiers from Holmes. Consumer reception and demand will likely dictate just how many more of these connected appliances end up getting the green light, but given the wide range of brands under Jarden's umbrella, there looks to be a lot of potential for Belkin to expand the Internet of Things fairly significantly.
The final product Belkin unveiled was the WeMo Maker Kit, a home automation option that seems more explicitly geared toward the hands-on, DIY-minded consumer. According to Belkin, the WeMo Maker "brings the Internet of Things to your fingertips," and gives users the ability to build their own smart home solutions by adding Internet connectivity to any device with a DC switch. This includes sprinkler systems, blinds motors, antennas, and more -- all of which you'll be able to automate and control directly, both through the WeMo app and through IFTTT.
The WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set, WeMo Smart LED Bulbs, Crock-Pot WeMo Slow Cooker, and WeMo Maker Kit will all be available in spring 2014, with more connected appliances expected to roll out in the months afterward. In the meantime, current WeMo users can look forward to next month's app upgrade, which will add new features like advanced sunrise/sunset rules, a countdown timer, and a customizable long press gesture for the WeMo Light Switch that can act as an instant IFTTT trigger.