Apple's HomeKit and Google's Nest may both be aspiring to be the preferred central hub for the fast-emerging smart home, but a startup has already beat them to Home Depot.
While Apple and Google still haven't rolled out their smart home technologies, startup company Wink, a subsidiary of self-styled "invention machine" Quirky, has begun selling more than 60 Wink-enabled gadgets at the more than 2,000 Home Depot stores across the United States and its online store. These devices range from simple items such as smart LED light bulbs that turn off when the window shades open to more complex products such as garden sprinklers that can be programmed and monitored via the owner's smartphone.
"When looking for new products and services, we believe it is critical The Home Depot provide our customers for the connected home options and convenience they desire - one that is easy, affordable and gives them the choice in products they need," says Jeff Epstein, vice president for home automation merchandising at Home Depot. "With Wink, we've found a partner that supports the industry leading brands we already carry on our shelves and online."
So far, 15 manufacturers, including iconic brands such as GE, Philips and Kwikset, and rapidly growing startups such as Rachio and Quirky, have partnered with Wink to produce a variety of smart home products that can be controlled over Wi-Fi using the updated Wink app, which is free for download from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
For products that are not yet Wi-Fi-enabled, customers can pick up the hardware Wink Hub, a rectangular box that uses a variety of wireless interfaces, such as Bluetooth, Z-Wave and Zigbee, to communicate with the devices. Wink Hub is available for $49.99 at Home Depot through Labor Day, but the price is slashed to $24.99 if bought with one Wink-enabled product. For customers who purchased two items, they can get the Wink Hub for almost free at $0.99.
Aside from Home Depot, Amazon has also started selling Wink-enabled products on its online store, an endorsement that gives the startup a good head start, as a number of other companies aside from Apple and Google are looking to dominate the growing smart home market as well. If Wink can keep up with its own pace by providing a reliable interface from which customers can control their smart home products, the startup has a good chance of staying ahead of the pack. Otherwise, either Apple or Google can easily snatch the lead from under Wink's nose by filling the gaps the startup is unable to close.