Life with Belkin’s WEMO, a tale of broken promises
It’s 2015 and we all thought we’d have flying cars by now. I don’t know anyone feeling terribly let down by that#, but we have been promised (and some of us invested early in) consumer accessible home automation (aka controlling stuff in your house remotely). However, while being an early adopter of technology does mean at times having to let some imperfections slide with the trust that future updates will improve the experience, Belkin’s WEMO has taken that trust and shattered it on my sporadically-lit floor.
After three years of what I can only call a roller-coaster of usability, I think I’m ready to pull the plug on WEMO.
Contrary to popular belief, home automation is not a new thing.# It’s actually been around for decades, it’s just been that the financial cost to the end-user was (and still is) significant, raising the barrier to adoption. However, in the last half decade, many consumer accessible home automation products have hit the market at a (relatively) more reasonable price point, and for me, Belkin’s WEMO seemed like the right investment; The WEMO product line offers smart switches that can control just about anything, while also including single-use products that work seamlessly within the WEMO eco-system…
Unfortunately WEMO’s vast array of products have proven themselves time and time again to be unreliable, and when you’re talking about something that controls all the electronics in your house, that’s kind of a deal breaker for me.
As I said, early adopters have a pretty high tolerance for bugs and generally can wait a reasonable amount of time for fixes to be deployed, but good vendors need to manage expectations and deliver on them consistently. And Belkin really wanted to be that type of vendor, the kind that fixed bugs quickly and kept early adopters excited for the next big update. Sadly, not only did they fall flat, they strung us early-adopters along by putting out releases that would fix one bug and create another, or, even worse, they would finally fix everything in one release only to push another update that broke it all again. It’s been an absolute rollercoaster and it sucks.
So what’s wrong with the WEMO exactly?
It seems to be different depending on the products you have and how you’re home network is set up, but something that is consistent for me (or inconsistent depending on how you want to look at it), is the WEMO app actually discovering my WEMO devices in a timely manner, if at all…
And while not actually being able to use our WEMO devices is pretty frustrating, it gets worse. One of my wife’s favorite ‘features’ is when the WEMO motion detector ignores its only rule set by us – ‘if motion detected between sunset and 10:30pm, then turn on Edison light for 15mins’ – and decides to turn on at 1:00am when I get up to get a glass of water or even throw an extra pillow off the bed. The real Edison, after he got over the whole shock of modern technology thing, would be shaking his head at that one.
So what do we do? When will ‘the rest of us’ have a viable home automation solution? I’m not entirely sure, but I do know it probably won’t come from Belkin.
There is some hope on the horizon, however, in the form of a Kickstarter for a new product that is being spearheaded by an 18-year old entrepreneur from Virginia, named Ameer Sami. This bold entrepreneur (like me) is fed up with what the market has to offer in terms of home automation and he’s doing something about.
Ameer and his team are running a Kickstarter right now to bring the Ottobox: Smart Self Programming Home Automation System to market. Ameer believes that not only will his product actually work, it will save 50% on your electric bill and even learn your habits so it can adjust it’s actions based on them.
If you’ve been let down by WEMO, or Phillips Hue or any of the other lack luster home automation solution out there, then head over to Ameer’s Kickstarter and do something about it.
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