Can a product become more than just a gadget, and can it become a word? That’s what Belkin’s CEO Chet Pipkin is hoping for if more people take up its home automation solution Wemo.
Belkin’s Chet Pipkin doesn’t have the same air about him that other executives have. He’s not cheesy, he’s not fake, and he’s not trying hard to get us to like him.
Instead, he’s sitting on a couch in a small restaurant opposite the water on a surprisingly warm day in Sydney, dressed a little more casually than most owners of companies that we normally see.
And he speaks candidly about the future of his business, and why it’s not just in making the cables, accessories, peripherals, and the random nicknacks that Belkin has predominantly been known for.
He’s talking about why the future of his company is in home automation.
The product he’s talking about is the Wemo, Belkin’s answer to a plug and play world that can take your home and basically put it on the network.
It’s a new category, and it’s one that Belkin is helping to shape, together with the hacking and tinkering community of the world, as it finds new and innovative ways to turn the regular homestead into the home from The Jetsons, minus Rosie, at least for the moment, anyway.
In this example today, your home and its lights and appliances are all little computers, and Belkin’s Wemo is the interface to make these bits and pieces light up, switch on, and be controlled from when you’re at home, and when you’re not.
Imagine walking into your home and having the lights switch on when it’s dark outside. No more fumbling awkwardly for the light switch, with the hall and living room lights switching on when you’re home.
You make your way to the kitchen and there’s food cooking already: the lamb roast you left in the slow cooker is going from when you switched it on half way through the course of the day, and will be ready in an hour when the significant other comes home.
“These are experiences that people want to have that are near and dear to them,” says Pipkin, telling GadgetGuy that Wemo’s development has been close to five or six years of experimentation, of learning what people like and would want to use home automation for in their lives, and applying it in a way that makes sense and is easy for anyone to use. Not the guy with the tool belt and sparky license, but anyone.
You, me, him, her; anyone.
“Is it possible for me to come home to a lit house?” asks Pipkin. “Is it possible for me to have my lawn getting watered when it needs it, but not automatically when it’s raining?”