If you’re just easing into home control and automation like me, Staples Connect is worth a look — moreso as the Linksys hub will shortly drop to a mere $50. With apps for most platforms, the hub communicates via 802.11b/g/n, Z-Wave, and Lutron wireless protocols. Along with the price reduction, broader retail distribution has been announced along with a second $80 D-Link hub $80 that will add Zigbee and Bluetooth LE communication. It seems pretty clear Bluetooth LE, aka Bluetooth Smart, will play a prominent role in this space (along with wearables), but its limited broadcast range may inhibit hub effectiveness and the existing model seems to do a fine job bridging most home automation silos. And we’re told the team is working through the process of Nest integration – which may be requisite these days.
While players like these aggregate a certain amount of device functionality behind a single UI, the real power comes from linking different products and technologies in meaningful ways. And one of the killer use cases of Staples Connect is turning a $15 Lutron Pico remote into a Philips Hue lightswitch. Program each button to do… whatever.
Of course, there are several entrants in the space… which is sure to evolve further given Apple’s newfound interest and I’m keeping an eye on that incoming $79 Wink Hub and $15 GE wireless LEDs. But, at 50 bucks, Staples Connect is now the most cost effective solution.