Wemo, Belkin’s smart home arm, announced an updated version of its wall dimmer switch this week. The new Wemo Smart Dimmer with Thread ($ 59.99) is a wired smart switch that allows you to dim and turn lights on and off remotely. It works exclusively with Apple’s HomeKit platform via Thread or Bluetooth and is now available in the Belkin web store (and soon on Amazon).
This focus on HomeKit follows a recent trend for the company, whose latest products – the Wemo Stage Scene Controller, Smart Jack, and Video Doorbell – only work with Apple’s smart home platform. This means that the new switch will only use the Apple Home app (and not the Wemo app) and will work with Siri for voice control.
Despite using Thread, the primary wireless protocol for Matter, and publicly announcing that it would launch new Matter-compatible devices this summer, Wemo says the Smart Dimmer will not be upgraded to support the next smart home standard.
“As of now, the Dimmer with Thread will not be upgradeable to Matter via firmware update when the new standard is launched later this year,” said Cassie Pineda, a spokesperson for Belkin. The border in an email. “When Matter launches later this year, we will bring new switches / dimmers to market that support Matter over Thread.”
While it seems redundant to release two nearly identical versions of the same product in the same year, Pineda said the reasoning is that today’s weakest launch supports HomeKit on Thread, “providing consumers with a more responsive, reliable and secure smart home experience. without the hassle of third-party apps, “he said. Matter’s delay (originally slated for launch this summer) may also have contributed to this divided 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 costs only around $ 40.
The biggest change with the new version, besides being exclusive to the Apple platform, is the use of Thread instead of Wi-Fi for connectivity. Thread is a wireless protocol created specifically for smart home devices; it is designed to be faster and more reliable, as well as using less power than Wi-Fi.
Since the Smart Dimmer uses HomeKit on Thread, an Apple HomePod Mini or Apple TV 4K (2nd Gen) is required to act as a Thread border router for the switch. An upcoming Thread update will allow border routers from different manufacturers to work together, but Wemo Switch can only work with Apple’s border routers.
If you don’t have an Apple TV Mini or newer, you can still use the Smart Dimmer via Bluetooth. For this, you only need an iPhone for local control and an Apple Home hub (an iPad or any model of Apple TV or HomePod) if you want to control the switch when you’re away from home and set up automations in the Home app.
In addition to Thread and Bluetooth, the Smart Dimmer also has NFC technology for faster, tap-to-pair setup.
A 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 – GE Lighting’s Lutron Caseta, Leviton, Aqara, and Cync offer some of the more well-known options.
Wemo’s Smart Dimmer is not compatible with three-way switches (lights that are controlled by two-position switches). It can only replace single-pole switches (Wemo sells a three-way Wi-Fi smart switch). It can be paired with the Wemo Stage Scene Controller to recreate a virtual three-way setup. Wemo claims the switch has flicker-free technology, so it works with both standard and dimmable bulbs without creating a flicker effect at lower 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 therefore the promise that the same device will arrive later this year with Matter support will create confusion. Confusion in the smart home is one of the main things that matter should solve.
The main point here is that Wemo’s new Smart Dimmer is designed for those who are all-in on Apple’s HomeKit and have no plans to try any other smart home platform. If you are planning to adopt Matter in your smart home, which carries with it the promise of controlling your home with multiple platforms if you wish, wait for the next version.