WigWag adds color-changing smart LEDs to an already ambitious setup

With new low-cost color-changing LEDs, this already ambitious setup looks even better in 2014.

Ry Crist Senior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
Expertise Smart home technology and wireless connectivity Credentials
  • 10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
Ry Crist
3 min read

Ry Crist/CNET

Comprehensive home automation with no monthly fees. A multitude of low-cost smart sensors built to monitor anything you can think of. Powerfully simple, IFTTT-like controls for all of it. Easy integration with a wealth of popular third party gadgets and web services. A fully customizable, maker-friendly interface.

This is the stuff smart home dreams are made of, and it's exactly what WigWag, a startup based out of Austin, Texas, promised its Kickstarter backers last year before going on to raise nearly half a million dollars. Now, after almost a year of delays and fears that its makers might have bitten off more than they could chew, the WigWag system is finally ready to start shipping out next month.

The WigWag Filament LEDs offer a full range of white-light tones, along with a complete color spectrum to play with. Ry Crist/CNET

The WigWag team isn't finished, though. At CEDIA this week, they unveiled new color-changing smart LEDs for the system, which you can pre-order now for as little as $25 per bulb if you're buying in bulk, or even less if you get them packaged with the WigWag Relay control hub. So, go ahead and add affordable smart lighting to WigWag's connected home agenda.

On paper, those "Filament" LED bulbs bear some pretty impressive specs. Fully dimmable, each bulb includes white diodes for a full range of incandescent-like tones, along with RGB diodes for the rest of the color spectrum. Drawing an average of 9 watts, they claim to put out up to 800 lumens' worth of light and last 30,000 hours. Philips Hue LEDs , for comparison, use 8.5 watts, but only put out 600 lumens at max brightness, and only promise to last 15,000 hours. And, of course, they cost significantly more.

You'll be able to control third party devices alongside your WigWag devices. Ry Crist/CNET

WigWag is currently taking pre-orders for $199 Filament LED kits that come packed with four bulbs and the WigWag Relay, which acts as the system's central control hub and sells for $150 on its own. In addition to controlling WigWag bulbs and devices, the Relay claims it can manage third party gadgets, too, including Belkin WeMo Switches and the Nest Learning Thermostat .

With smart LEDs, the third party controls get even more interesting. Promising to manage competing color smart bulbs like Philips Hue and LIFX right alongside the Filament LEDs, WigWag tells us that its app can even force the different bulbs to play nice and produce matching color tones.

WigWag's got a nifty new smart home setup (pictures)

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For instance, we've seen Philips Hue LEDs struggle with green shades. Paired with Filament LEDs and LIFX, the Hue would look a little yellowy if all three were set to green. WigWag's app, however, claims it can automatically get the bulbs to sync up and put out the best-looking shade of green that all three are capable of. That's a neat-sounding trick, and one that we're looking forward to testing out.

All devices added into WigWag's system can be controlled through simple, IFTTT-like "rules" created right in the WigWag app. WigWag replaces the "If" of IFTTT's"If This, Then That" recipes with "When," but it's essentially the same approach. One key difference: with WigWag, the logic controls seem more thorough, allowing for rules with multiple triggers or multiple actions.

When you make a WigWag rule, you're actually creating JavaScript code. If you want to jump in and tinker around with that code manually, WigWag won't stop you. Ry Crist/CNET

An example would be setting your porch light to come on if a motion detector senses movement and if it's dark out. Or you could set three different things to happen when the motion detector senses you've arrived home from work -- all from within a single rule.

Another benefit of WigWag's approach is that it's built upon a JavaScript-based development platform called DeviceJS. With DeviceJS, your rules are locally cached within the WigWag Relay. That means that once you create them, your rules should continue to work even if the Internet goes down.

Ry Crist/CNET

There's good reason for healthy skepticism with an unproven, untested system like WigWag, especially given that it's making so many bold performance claims and still hasn't shipped out to its original backers. On top of that, the Relay and the WigWag Sensor Block are the only system components from the Kickstarter campaign currently available to order online. That doesn't sound like a startup that's quite caught up with its own initial demand.

Still, I'm intrigued by what WigWag is offering, and looking forward to testing all of those bold performance claims out for myself. As soon as that happens, expect a full review.