Wemo, the smart home arm of Belkin, announced an updated version of its indoor wall dimmer switch this week. The new Wemo Smart Dimmer with Thread ($59.99) is a wired smart switch that lets you remotely dim and turn your lights on and off. It works exclusively with Apple’s HomeKit via Thread or Bluetooth and is now available from the Belkin Web Store (and soon on Amazon).
The HomeKit focus follows a recent trend for the company, with its last few products—Wemo Stage Scene Controller, smart components, and video doorbell—working only with Apple’s smart home platform. This means that the new switch will exclusively use the Apple Home app (not the Wemo app), and will work with Siri for voice control.
Despite using Thread, Matter’s main wireless protocol, and having publicly announced that it will release new Matter-ready devices this summer, Wemo says the Smart Dimmer will not be upgraded to support the upcoming smart home standard.
“As of now, the Dimmer with Thread will no longer be upgradable to Matter via a firmware update when the new standard is launched later this year,” said Cassie Pineda, a Belkin spokesperson. the edge in a letter. “When Matter is launched later this year, we will introduce to the market new switches/dimmers that support Matter over Thread.”
While it seems unnecessary to release two nearly identical versions of the same product in the same year, Pineda said the reason is that today’s dim-witted launch supports HomeKit via Thread, “providing consumers with a more responsive, reliable, and secure smart home experience without the hassles of third-party apps.” . The material’s delay (it was originally scheduled for release this summer) may also have contributed to this separate ecosystem.
The new Smart Dimmer does not replace the current Wemo Smart Dimmer Switch, which is still available and works over Wi-Fi. It is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit, and only costs about $40.
The biggest change in the new version, other than being exclusive to the Apple platform, is the use of Thread instead of Wi-Fi for connectivity. Thread is a wireless protocol designed specifically for smart home devices; It’s designed to be faster and more reliable, as well as use less power than Wi-Fi.
Since the Smart Dimmer uses HomeKit via Thread, you need an Apple HomePod Mini or Apple TV 4K (2nd generation) to act as the adapter’s thread boundary router. Thread’s upcoming update will open up frontier routers from different manufacturers to work together, but the Wemo Switch can only work with Apple’s frontier routers.
If you don’t have a small Apple TV or newer, you can still use the Smart Dimmer over Bluetooth. For this, you’ll only need an iPhone for local control and an Apple Home hub (iPad or any model of Apple TV or HomePod) if you want to control the switch when you’re away from home and to set up automation in the Home app.
In addition to Thread and Bluetooth, the Smart Dimmer also has NFC technology for a faster tap-to-pair setup.
Wired switch, the Smart Dimmer works with or without a neutral wire, making it compatible with both newer and older homes. There are only a few smart switches that work without a neutral wire: Lutron Caseta, Leviton, Aqara, and GE Lighting’s Cync offer some of the more popular options.
Wemo Smart Dimmer is not compatible with 3-way switches (lights controlled by two-position switches). It can only replace single-pole switches (Wemo sells a three-way smart switch for Wi-Fi). It can be paired with Wemo Stage Scene Controller to recreate a default 3-way setup. Wemo says the switch has flicker-free technology, so it works with both standard and dimmable lights without creating a flickering effect at low light levels.
While it’s good to see more Thread products coming to the smart home, the launch of new Thread devices that won’t be upgraded to Matter today and then the promise of the same device coming later this year with Matter support will create confusion. Confusion in the smart home is one of the main things the material is supposed to fix.
The main takeaway here is that the new Wemo Smart Dimmer is for those who are all into Apple’s HomeKit and have no plans to try any other smart home platform. If you’re planning to adopt Matter into your smart home — which brings with it the promise of controlling your home through multiple platforms if you want to — wait for the next release.
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