Review: turn your lights on and off with your iPhone and the Belkin WeMo Switch + Motion
WeMo is billed as a family of devices from Belkin that allow users to control home electronics remotely via a free iPhone compatible app. The idea is you can turn lights, TVs, appliances and more, on and off, either via motion or over your home Wi-Fi network or further afield, including 3G. The hope is the local good-for-nothing will see signs of life and move on from home or office although in reality, and from unfortunate experience, this isn't always effective. That said, some positive action won't do any harm and it's a big plus if your mobility or health isn't what it could be.
The Belkin system is scalable and enables users to control individual and potentially, plugs permitting, multiple devices from iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Additionally, the company offers a baby monitor that allows parents to listen in and even keep a log of crying patterns, including alerts via Push Notifications, text and email. WeMo offers IFTTT integration, an online service that allows users to create multiple tasks from one platform, although this isn't fully explained. Belkin notes users can, for example, set up a motion sensor by a door and use the 'if this then that' technology to create a rule that will send a text message to your phone any time motion is sensed.
Starting at around £40 for the basic WeMo Switch and rising to around £80 each for the WeMo Switch + Motion and WeMo Baby, Belkin's system isn't the cheapest although its more versatile than simply buying a timer plug from Argos or elsewhere. Once plugged into the mains, set-up was simple, aided by a no frills iOS app, which shows virtual switches that you can click on and off. You can easily customise the apps settings to ensure you are activating the right lights or appliances.
While neat in size, the WeMo components do take up a fair bit of wall space, which means if your power sockets are close together or awkwardly placed this can be a problem. Like with seemingly ever other tech gadget, we hope the bulk is reduced and refined with future updates. Disappointingly, looking around online it appears Belkin and retailers don't sell additional Motion sensors without investing in the WeMo Switch + Motion package, which limits the products true scalability. Reading online customer reviews, your home network set-up also may likely play a role in how successful WeMo is configurable, especially from afar.
While more costly than some options, programmable timer switches or timer plugs for instance, the WeMo system is a worthy option, thanks to its simplicity and scalability. While it may not keep the bad guys from your doors or windows, it does offer some peace of mind and thanks to a dedicated iOS app offers the ability to automate lights and more from almost anywhere.