Quirky's smart home has a name

Collaborative invention center Quirky is branching off with a smart home company called Wink, plus a new app and hub to control all of your connected devices.

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The $69 Quirky Egg Minder Colin West McDonald/CNET

The Quirky model works like this: anyone can submit a product idea, members vote on their favorites, and Quirky selects three top picks per week, manufactures them, and distributes them for retail. So far, this innovative approach to production has worked relatively well.

We've already reviewed several of Quirky's app-compatible smart home products -- specifically, the Aros, the Egg Minder, the Pivot Power Genius, and the Spotter -- and while we didn't give all of these devices high marks, we thought the Wink app, which acts as a command center for all of Quirky's smart products, was very accessible.

The New York Times recently reported that the startup is expanding on its smart home theme by creating a separate company called Wink, which will focus on unifying connected products under a single software platform. And we aren't just talking about Quirky-brand products.

According to The New York Times, 15 companies are already on board with Quirky's new Wink initiative (including General Electric, Honeywell, Philips, and Rachio), and Home Depot has agreed to be the storefront for Wink-compatible products. Starting July 7, the Wink app will be relaunched, and most of Home Depot's 2,000 stores will begin featuring Wink-compatible products prominently.

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Quirky's existing Wink app. Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

These products will have a label saying "Wink app ready," or "Wink app compatible." App-ready products can be installed as is, while app-compatible products will need a separate hub. The $79 Wink hub will be available at Home Depot and on Amazon.

The Wink hub will be the newest addition to the list of protocol translators available today. Since hubs are designed to "speak" a variety of network languages like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, and ZigBee, they can adapt to a wide range of product types. There's no word yet on Wink's list of compatible protocols, but in a blog post Quirky's founder and CEO Ben Kaufman said, "Wink will be truly open to all and accepting of all of the standards and protocols that exist in today's market."

In other words: Watch out, Lowe's Iris, SmartThings, Revolv, and Insteon.

The $99 Iris Smart hub is limited in terms of its compatible protocols, but it can work with a bunch of different Z-Wave modules. SmartThings' $99 hub can operate both Z-Wave and ZigBee products, and works with IFTTT and third-party products such as Honeywell thermostats and Schalge locks. The $299 Revolv hub is expected to work with seven different protocols, but is currently only compatible with Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, and Insteon. The Insteon hub costs $130, but only $120 when bought as part of the hub-and-two-dimmers Insteon starter kit and operates on its own protocol.

The Wink hub is the least expensive of the bunch, but seems to have a Revolv-style "more the merrier" vision -- just at a $220 discount. The fact that the Wink hub and its compatible products will be featured at Home Depot won't hurt either. Kaufman also said that "Wink will work with everyone, including some of Quirky's largest competitors." It may seem counter-intuitive, but that philosophy might just make Wink a dominant force in the smart home industry.

 

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