Belkin WeMo Promises Affordable Plug & Play Home Automation

Your TV has a remote control. Your home audio system has a remote. But why isn't the rest of your home connected and controllable at the touch of a button? That's the question Belkin tries to answer with the WeMo, an easy to install, modular home automation system we got to preview a few weeks back at CES...

The problem with home automation systems in the past were they were: 1) prohibitively expensive, 2) not as user-friendly as one would hope, and 3) would require custom installation. But products like the Belkin WeMo are taking advantage to the prevalence of wireless networking and smartphone/tablet app use, to actually bring home automation into more homes.

Belkin setup a tastefully decorated "today's home" booth at this year's CES (we have to commend them on their choice of decorative and furnishing items, one which included a midcentury side table we wanted to take home with us), all to illustrate how the Belkin WeMo works:

Simply plug the WeMo Home Control Switch into any electrical outlet and then plug in any device, such as a lamp, into the WeMo Home Control Switch. Through the free smartphone app, the item then can be turned on or off remotely or scheduled to turn on and off at set times. The second product in the line is the WeMo Motion Sensor, which works with the WeMo Home Control Switch to make your device react to motion. Used together, WeMo can create a home environment that can turn a light on when someone walks in a room, or off when no one is present.

The kicker is the system is extremely affordable, at just $49.99 for the WeMo Home Control Switch, the component which allows on/off switching via app (a future free iOS download), scheduling or sensor controls. The WeMo Motion Sensor + Home Control Switch package adds a motion detection unit, and bumps up the price to a still reasonable $99.99; you can continue adding more control switches and motion sensors across a whole house over time without the need for any electrical work.

We'll have to wait till this summer to get a hands-on test (units at the show were for display only), alongside the release of additional features like baby monitoring, garage door opener, and door lock/unlock system.

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