You've probably never heard of Wink, but you may soon encounter its logo ("Wink app ready") or its smart home router (the "Wink Hub") the next time you go shopping at Home Depot. The logo will appear on a range of WiFi-connected devices from different manufacturers, including air conditioners from GE and thermostats from Honeywell, signifying that they can all be controlled via the Wink app for Android and iOS. The hub unit, which will go on sale July 7th priced at $80, will act as a secondary router for Wink-compatible devices that communicate over Bluetooth, Z-Wave or Zigbee wireless protocols instead of regular WiFi -- it's something Wink describes as a reluctant but necessary addition in order for these other sorts of devices to be easily controlled via its platform
Speaking of smart home "platforms," now might seem like a strange time for a newcomer to try to build one, what with Google creating its own empire out of Nest and Dropcam, Apple pushing HomeKit, not to mention other eager players like Revolv and SmartThings also getting into the mix. But Wink isn't any back-of-an-envelope startup. It's an offshoot of Quirky, which is already producing hoardes of Wink-compatible devices, plus the platform has some major partners on board: the aforemention GE and Honeywell, plus Philips, Rachio and around ten others. Besides, if future devices can happily support numerous platforms, without forcing consumers to pick one and stick to it, then a bit of jostling between rivals could be a very good thing.