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At long last Wink is showing off its planned wall-based home control device — a light switch and touchscreen combo that will retail for $300. The device, which was rumored earlier this year, will let consumers who have Wink home automation systems control their homes from a wall panel and the two adjacent light switches. I like the idea since it lets people who don’t have a phone (guests, children) manage the home.
The device is available for pre-order on Amazon and will hit [company]Home Depot[/company] shelves in time for the holidays (the site says it ships around Thanksgiving). It also will coincide with an app update and new partners for Wink, including Nest. According to the Wink press release over 100 devices from 15 brands now work with the Wink system. That’s a decent roster of devices, although the Wink platform itself has some growing to do before I recommend it to my non–tech-savvy friends.
In my tests I found the hardware difficult to work with, but the software is promising. The Relay wall switch will replace an existing light switch in the home, and adds a variety of sensors such as temperature, humidity, proximity and sound. It also promises to one day function as an intercom thanks to its speakers and microphone. Wink recommends having a professional install the switch.
A possible trend in the home automation space: Touchscreens deployed around the house to act as an alternative to phones, with this switch and the Logitech Harmony remote that contains a 2.5-inch capacitive touchscreen to run the smartphone app. I’m excited about using cast-off handsets and tablets as remotes for my home automation system, scattered around the house or in the guest room, so it stands to reason others might be excited about that opportunity as well. Not everyone carries their smart hone around in their pocket all the time.