Initial impressions are that it just works: plug it in, and let the iPhone app find it – and then you can control your home appliances as easily as with a TV remote – or at least any appliance that you can turn on and off. That’s what this switch is: a socket that that you can switch on and off using the iPhone app (although there is an override button on the switch itself). There are ‘smart’ features too: so for example, you could turn on a fan but make it turn off automatically after a predefined period of time. You know, in case it chops up all the air molecules and you suffocate (n.b. it doesn’t, you won’t).
The motion sensor works as you might expect. I thought it too was a switch, but it’s not, it’s just the same size as the switch with a small cylindrical unit that is connected via a wire. There is about a second delay from when the sensor detects motion, to when the information travels through the internet and the WeMo service acknowledges it, and then does something – such as turn on the switch controlling a floor lamp in your dark basement.
For advanced nerd points, you can also use the IFTTT web service to do some pretty interesting things with the WeMo: for example, the motion sensor can be configured send you an instant message to your phone. Could be handy if you have a holiday home you want to keep an eye on – once you get an IM that someone has entered the building, you could activate another switch over the internet that boots up a computer and starts the webcam. Or activates powerful laser or something. Just saying.
Perhaps the most useful thing I have done is use the built-in timer to switch on my George Foreman grill to make me bacon in the morning. I wake up to the smell of crackling bacon. It’s delicious, it’s good for me, and it’s the perfect way to start the day. Then I use the motion sensor to detect that I’ve hopped into the bathroom with a burnt foot.
Note: I had some trouble using the switches and sensors when I left the house, and had to rely on an internet connection rather than my home wifi. However, after a recent firmware update, it all works fine with my Comcast/Apple Airport set-up. I’ll be using the system to start up a computer I need to access remotely when I’m away from home.
If you simply plug it in with a light and leave it at that, that is exactly what you get. BUT, if you really put your mind to it and connect this to the website [...] and put some thought into it, you can create a very neat system to move your home closer to automation. If you are on the fence, give it a try for sure!