The ‘Star Trek’ Home, Ep 2: Wink

In Star Trek, the bridge is a command center in a starship where commanding officers supervise all of the operations of the vessel. Like the bridge is to a starship, smart homes often have a hub that consolidates and controls the operations of the diverse smart devices within the home, and enable them to communicate and work with each other. That being said, I’m going to shine the spotlight on the Wink smart home system in this 2nd episode of the ‘Star Trek’ Home series

What is Wink?

Wink is a smart home system that focuses on using the smart phone as a remote control for the home. Much like the starship bridge, Wink consolidates smart home devices and enables its users to remotely control, monitor, and automate devices through the Wink app.

Wink Hub 

A ‘hub’ (or central controller) that allows multiple Wink-certified devices to communicate and work together.

Wink Hub 2 

The successor to the Wink Hub.


Apart from the slimmer and sleeker look, the differences between the Wink Hub and Wink Hub 2 are as follows:

  • Device Support – Compared to its predecessor, the Wink Hub 2 supports more smart home technologies, such as an improved Bluetooth LE and a thread-capable radio (IPv6 network ptotocol for Internet of Things). This enables future-proofing of new and upcoming smart devices.
  • Ethernet Port – The Wink Hub 2 comes with an Ethernet port apart from Wifi connectivity. Having an Ethernet port enables the Wink Hub 2 to be wired up (dedicated connection), thus allowing for improved connectivity for flawless control of smart devices.
  • Security – The Wink Hub 2 comes with hardware for cryptographic verification called secure boot. Secure Boot ensures that the hub only runs on trusted software. This security feature is to prevent tampering from all types of security attacks. Robust security is an essential feature for a smart home hub as it brings the whole smart home together.
  • Setup – The Wink Hub 2 has an auto-discovery feature and a guided setup. This means that the user would just need to install and launch the Wink app upon plugging in the hub and powering it on. The app will then automatically discover the hub, which makes for a faster and easier setup.

 

Wink Hub vs. Wink Hub 2 – Full chart of features

Wink Hub

Wink Hub 2

Dimensions (inches)  8 x 8 x 3  7.25  x 7.25 x 1.25
Technology Support

 Kidde

Clear Connect

Z-Wave

ZigBee

 Bluetooth LE

Kidde

Clear Connect

Z-Wave

ZigBee

Setup  Manual Discovery Auto Discovery + Guided Setup
Local Control  Basic  Enhanced
Connectivity  2.4 GHz (WiFi)

 2.4 GHz (WiFi)

5 GHz (WiFi)

Wired

Memory 64 MB  512 MB
 Included

Hub

Power supply

 Hub

Power supply

Ethernet cable

 

Wink Relay 

The Wink Relay is a 4.3-inch touchscreen control panel that runs the Wink app, allowing the user to control their smart home devices from a central location in their home.


Wink Relay Features

Dimensions (L x W x H, in inches): 6.56 x 1.25 x 5.88

Replaces most traditional single or double light switches.

Compatible with WiFi and ZigBee

For devices that use Bluetooth LE, Z-Wave, Lutron ClearConnect, and Kidde technologies, the Wink Hub or Wink Hub 2 will need to be connected with the Wink Relay.

Temperature, humidity, and proximity sensors.

The microphone and speaker on the Wink Relay will soon have intercom functionality.

Wink App

The Wink app connects a wide range of Wink-certified smart home devices and gives the user control over their home from their smart devices. Some devices work directly with the Wink app, while some products require either the Wink Hub or Wink Hub 2 to enable the user to control lights, locks, thermostats, and many more devices from anywhere in the world. Users can also set to receive alerts and notifications and set schedules for the operation of their smart devices.
Home Sitter is a free lighting service that turns Wink-compatible lighting devices on and off to mimic human activity. Home Sitter learns the lighting activities of the user by gathering lighting usage data of each day. This safety feature is particularly useful for when the user is away from home.

Moonlight is another free lighting service on the Wink app that turns lights on and off at predetermined times. This works for both indoor and outdoor lights. There are three timing options for activating Moonlight – Sunset to Midnight, Sunset to 2:00 AM, and Sunset to Sunrise.

Shortcuts is a feature that is tailored to suit each user’s needs and allows the user to conveniently control multiple devices with just one button, without having to navigate the app to control each device. This feature is useful for the devices that are accessed frequently. Using the Wink widget, users are also able to add the shortcuts to the home screen of their smart devices.

Robots allows the user to create automation tasks that consists of  triggers and actions (much like IFTTT, “If This, Then That”) to control the way the smart devices communicate and work together. As an example (like in the picture below), if the Robot detects that the patio door is opened between 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., then it will send a push notification to the user’s mobile device.


Schedules can be set to turn devices on and off at desired times.

The Wink app is free to download from the App Store and Google Play, and free to use without any subscription fees.

A complete list of Wink-certified devices can be found on the Wink Products page.


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Wink and Alexa

Wink works with Amazon Echo’s voice assistant – Alexa – so that users are able to use voice commands to control the smart devices in their homes. In order to utilize this feature, the Wink Hub or Wink Hub 2 would need to be installed.

At the time of writing, Wink-enabled lights, switches, Nest thermostats, and even locks can now work with Alexa. Users can just ask Alexa to turn on or off the lights in a room:

Alexa, turn off the kitchen lights.

or to lock or check if a door is locked:

Alexa, is the front door locked?

However, for security purposes, Alexa is currently unable to unlock doors.

 

Wink and IFTTT

IFTTT is a free web service that allows users to create triggers or chains of events (called Recipes), just like its name suggests – “If This, Then That”. By combining IFTTT and Wink, users can connect devices together in endless combinations using existing recipes, or by creating their own.

To start using or creating recipes using IFTTT, users would need to link their Wink hub to their Wink account. To do this, the user would need to sign up for an IFTTT account, sign in it, search for “Wink” in the search box, and then click on the “Connect” button. The user will also be asked to enter their Wink app account credentials. Once the Wink account is successfully connected to the IFTTT account, the user is now able to search from a wide library of existing recipes or experiment by creating their own.


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Hannah Chao

Gamer. Techie. Nerd.