IoT Journey 1: Wink Hub

An actual post from my Twitter:

The Good

I have the Wink Hub v1 — though it has since been “decomissioned”, thrown on a shelf, and the app deleted. The device was truly awesome when I first got it.

Protocols it supported:

  • Z-Wave
  • ZigBee
  • Proprietary Kiddie Protocol for Smoke/CO2 Detectors
  • Bluetooth
  • WiFi
  • Clear Connect
  • Lutron

If you open the device, it literally looks like a pile of disparate radios attached to a micro-controller middle. This would have made a fantastic development platform that could have sold for more money, but it wasn’t.

For a long time, they were pioneering the Smart Home market. Home Depot carried their products, they had a “seal of approval” for compatible products, and overall worked “alright.” It had some cool integrations — for example, if I detected smoke or CO2 in my house, it can automatically turn on all the supported lights and shut off my HVAC equipment via thermostat (this way, we don’t feed more oxygen to the fire or circulate the CO2 from the furnace more).

The Bad

  • Yes, this is so bad it needs a bulleted list
  • They had an API, that constantly evolved and was crap to work with
  • To get an API key, you’d have to email them. It could take months to get back a key
  • IIRC they’d take license in whatever you develop against it
  • They kept promising a “local API” or “local communications” which would have greatly improved latency between your device and the lights/switches/etc. I never realized the performance in my Wink Hub until I paired it with Alexa.
  • Eventually, the site used to authenticate the Wink Hub with Alexa was taken offline, so I couldn’t pair it with Alexa after I “deleted” the pairing.
  • The bulbs took stupid long to respond. Like, sometimes upwards of a few minutes. Sometimes, only some of the bulbs would respond. The icons in the app would not represent the actual state of the device… e.g. it would show devices as on that weren’t.
  • No IFTTT implementation, and the automation “robots” were lacking in functionality.
  • The app was clumsily designed, maybe to fit an iPhone, but certainly not good enough for an Android app.

You certainly cannot ignore the constant daily grind of posts like this either:

Rapper’s Tech Company Faltering

Wink is on Life Support

Or this Reddit post you see constantly

In the end, I think it is the end for the company. It’s too bad, because I’ve bought a lot of stuff to work with it, some that are now useless due to the company going away.

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Robert Lerner

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