Belkin Wemo’s new Smart Dimmer Switch with Thread is exclusively for Apple’s HomeKit

Wemo, the good house arm of Belkin, introduced an up to date model of its in-wall dimmer swap this week. The brand new Wemo Sensible Dimmer with Thread ($59.99) is a wired good swap that allows you to dim and switch lights on and off remotely. It really works solely with Apple’s HomeKit platform over Thread or Bluetooth and is obtainable now from Belkin’s internet retailer (and coming quickly to Amazon).

This HomeKit focus follows a current pattern for the corporate, whose previous few merchandise — the Wemo Stage Scene Controller, good plug, and video doorbell — solely work with Apple’s good house platform. This implies the brand new swap will use the Apple House app solely (and never the Wemo app), and can work with Siri for voice management.

Regardless of utilizing Thread, the primary wi-fi protocol for Matter, and having publicly introduced it might launch new Matter-ready gadgets this summer season, Wemo says the Sensible Dimmer gained’t be upgraded to help the upcoming good house customary.

“As of proper now, the Dimmer with Thread is not going to be upgradable to Matter by way of firmware replace when the brand new customary launches later this yr,” Cassie Pineda, a spokesperson for Belkin, advised The Verge in an electronic mail. “When Matter launches later this yr, we are going to carry to market new switches/dimmers that help Matter over Thread.”

Whereas it appears redundant to launch two virtually an identical variations of the identical product in the identical yr, Pineda stated the reasoning is that the dimmer launching at the moment helps HomeKit over Thread, “offering customers with a extra responsive, dependable, and safe good house expertise with out the trouble of third-party apps,” she stated. Matter’s delay (it was initially scheduled to launch this summer season), could have additionally contributed to this cut up ecosystem.

The brand new $60 Wemo Sensible Dimmer swap will work with Apple’s HomeKit.
Picture: Belkin

The brand new Sensible Dimmer doesn’t change the present Wemo Sensible Dimmer Swap, which continues to be obtainable and works over Wi-Fi. That’s suitable with Amazon Alexa, Google House, and Apple HomeKit, and solely prices round $40.

The largest change with the brand new model, past being unique to Apple’s platform, is using Thread relatively than Wi-Fi for connectivity. Thread is a wi-fi protocol particularly constructed for good house gadgets; it’s designed to be sooner and extra dependable, in addition to use much less energy than Wi-Fi.

As a result of the Sensible Dimmer makes use of HomeKit over Thread, you want an Apple HomePod Mini or Apple TV 4K (second gen) to behave as Thread border router for the swap. A forthcoming replace to Thread will open up border routers from completely different producers to work collectively, however the Wemo Swap can solely work with Apple’s border routers.

When you don’t have a Mini or newer Apple TV, you may nonetheless use the Sensible Dimmer over Bluetooth. For this, you’d simply want an iPhone for native management and an Apple House hub (an iPad or any mannequin of Apple TV or HomePod) if you wish to management the swap whenever you’re away from house and to arrange automations within the House app.

Along with Thread and Bluetooth, the Sensible Dimmer additionally has NFC know-how for a faster, tap-to-pair setup.

The brand new dimmer has two buttons for dimming the lights.
Picture: Belkin

A wired swap, the dimmer matches in an in-wall electrical field.
Picture: Belkin Wemo

A wired swap, the Sensible Dimmer works with or and not using a impartial wire, making it suitable with each newer and older houses. There are just a few good switches that work and not using a impartial wire: Lutron Caseta, Leviton, Aqara, and GE Lighting’s Cync supply among the extra well-known choices.

Wemo’s Sensible Dimmer isn’t suitable with three-way switches (lights which can be managed by switches from two places). It could actually solely change single-pole switches (Wemo does promote a Wi-Fi three-way good swap). It may be paired with the Wemo Stage Scene Controller to recreate a digital three-way setup. Wemo says the swap has flicker-free know-how, so works with each customary and dimmable bulbs with out making a flickering impact at decrease gentle ranges.

Whereas it’s good to see extra Thread merchandise coming to the good house, launching new Thread gadgets that will not be upgraded to Matter at the moment after which promising the identical machine might be coming later this yr with Matter help goes to trigger confusion. Confusion within the good house is among the primary issues Matter is meant to repair.

The principle takeaway right here is that Wemo’s new Sensible Dimmer is designed for individuals who are all-in on Apple’s HomeKit and don’t have any plans to attempt every other good house platform. If you’re planning on adopting Matter in your good house — which brings with it the promise of controlling your property with a number of platforms in order for you — then anticipate the following model.