Belkin’s WeMo builds an internet of things in your kitchen

Attention forgetful people of the world, or those who just have to check (twice!) to make sure their stove is turned off before they leave the house: A deal between the maker of the WeMo switch and a popular brand of consumer devices will make it easier to turn your space heaters, coffee pots and slow cookers on or off from your smartphone.

Belkin, the maker of the WeMo switch, has signed a deal with Jarden Corp., which is responsible for brands like Holmes space heaters, Crock-Pot slow cookers, Mr. Coffee coffee pots and assorted other appliances names like Oster and Sunbeam. The details of the partnership weren’t spelled out in the release announcing the deal, (it’s a lure to get you to the Belkin booth at the Consumer Electronics Show this week in Vegas) but it does show how Belkin hopes to build an ecosystem around the WeMo. The first Jarden products with WeMo will launch later this year, with additional product offerings through 2014.

Belkin WeMo SwitchThe WeMo is a switch that you plug into an outlet that lets you turn things on and off using your Wi-Fi network and the smartphone app. My colleague Laura Hazard Owen reviewed it for our Gift Guide in December, judging it pricey at $50 per connected device, but easy to implement. When the WeMo was announced at last CES, GigaOM’s Kevin Tofel thought it would help the masses implement a connected home because the kit used Wi-Fi and was simple to implement.

I’ve asked Belkin what the deal means for end users, but at a minimum it should allow Jarden devices to populate the smart phone app automatically, so users don’t have to manually type in the name of their Crock-Pot so the app recognizes it. I’d love for it to go further, allowing for finer-grained controls. Right now, the WeMo lets you turn something on or off. Combined with its motion detection device you could step out of bed in the AM and trigger the motion detector to turn on the lights in your bedroom and the coffee pot downstairs, but you would spend more than $100 for the privilege. And a better solution might just be programming your coffee pot.

But the release announcing the deal touts the ability of Jarden to reinvigorate its brands with connectivity and mentions services that it could build around connected apps. That’s something I’m profoundly interested in, especially with regards to the kitchen. It also positions the WeMo as a gateway for the connected home, with much of the required intelligence running in the cloud as opposed to on a box somewhere in the home.

For more on the emergence of the internet of things check out these two stories: