2013
08.14

I really love the idea of the connected home. And I love speaking with people that really love the idea of the connected home. Count Ed Hemphill as one such person.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Ed this week. He is one of the cofounders of a company named WigWag. Currently on KickStarter (with three days to go), the best way to describe WigWag is set of sensors and control devices, coupled with a rules-based smartphone app, that aims to make your home environment more dynamic. Or, in a more simplistic description, WigWag tackles the simple notion of ‘When (This), Then (That).’

Let me explain. Let’s say you have a motion-control sensor in your kitchen. You wake up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water and it turns on when it detects you entering the room. But then after a period of no action it turns off. WigWag envisions a world where sensors in that environment detect temperature change, noise levels, time of day, and anything else you can imagine. With all of that, the light will know you are still in the room and leave the lights on for you. So, in essence it’s: When (Drinking a glass of water at 2 am), Then (Leave the lights on for me).

Seems like a trivial example, but I can imagine many actual useful scenarios. Perhaps the most fundamentally important piece to making this all work is the fact WigWag wants to be “protocol agnostic” and has built its platform to control devices running on any protocol, such as Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, and ZigBee. You can even throw old-school home-control protocols like Insteon and X-10 into the mix … who knew people were still using those.

All of this intelligence sits inside the WigWag devices that you place throughout your home (or any environment), which are then controlled via the smartphone app I mentioned earlier. You as the end user create the scenarios: When (This) Then (That) via the app. Don’t worry, the JavaScript rules are already written for you behind the scenes.

Here is why I really enjoyed my conversation with Ed. He simply gets the idea that it’s the little nuances in life that make a difference. I guarantee you 99 people out of 100 are not bothered by the fact their lights would go out on them while they drink a glass of water at 2 am. But for that one person who is, technology can solve the problem. (Wait, is that an actual problem? I digress). It’s the perfect example that when you can cater to the nuances that make each individual’s life easier, your idea will truly take hold.

I’ve long been under the belief that the smart home will never be the “smart home” until we start building personalized solutions. (I have the blogs to prove it.) In other words, I want my connected home experience to be like my smartphone experience … personalized and unlike anyone else. It is the very reason I believe old-school home systems never took off. When I show off something in my home, I want to be sure that it is all mine and something my friends cannot replicate. That is what platforms like WigWag promise to do.

It all reminds me of the conversation I had with Utz Baldwin and Glen Burchers over at Ube. We had a similar talk about combining devices in our lives to make it a more personalized experience. The example Baldwin shared was stepping on your Wi-Fi-enabled scale and it tells you that you’ve gained a pound this week. After consulting with your connected pedometer that says you have taken 5,000 fewer steps this week and your connected TV is telling you that it was powered on for five additional hours this week, you now know why. That is the smart home nirvana Ube is searching for eventually with its app.

For the folks at WigWag, it’s a bit different. For me it would be ‘When (I wake up), Then (Turn on the coffee, the TV, and open the garage door).’ Ed tells me that they are working with Ube on their lighting switch … so perhaps we really haven’t seen anything yet.

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