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Norm! Quirky Challenges Nest with New Thermostat

The nest is no longer so empty. Quirky, a crowdfunding product innovation company along with its partner GE, today announced several additions to its Wink smart home line of products, chief among them a thermostat that uses sensors throughout your house to get a better picture of the temperature indoors.

The Quirky Norm, as it's called, is an unassuming white box that fits where your regular thermostat would go. Unlike most other thermostats, which provide readouts of the temperature, the Norm just has a single button on its face; you're meant to control it using a smartphone app. Norm, which costs $80, can connect to other Norms throughout your house, or other Quirky Wink devices, many of which also have temperature and humidity sensors. Users can tell the system to turn on their air conditioning or heating based on the temperature in one room, or on an average of all the temperatures throughout your house. Like many other Wink products, users will need to have installed the Wink Hub ($50) or Wink Relay Touchscreen Controller ($300) in order to interact with the Norm.

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I like the idea of using multiple sensors to measure the temperature--indeed, Ecobee, another smart-home thermostat has a similar strategy--but I think the lack of visual cues on the Norm itself may turn off those who simply want to turn a dial to change the temperature.

Other products announced by Quirky today include the Spotter UNIQ, a hockey-puck sized device that can be configured with up to four sensors of the customer's choosing. Currently, there are nine possible options, including temperature, humidity, sound light, infrared, and smart buttons. The Spotter will cost from $30 to $120, depending on how many sensors you opt for. Consumers will also be able to choose from one of three colors--white, black and teal--and color each sensor differently. The Spotter will be manufactured in Quirky's new micro-factory in San Francisco, which, according to CEO Ben Kaufman, will be up and running by mid-December.

Quirky also launches the $40 Tripper, a window and door sensor; the $35 Overflow, a water leak monitor; Ascend ($90), a device to make your garage door smart; Tapt ($60), a smart wall switch that will still let you control smart LED bulbs even when the power is off; and Outlink ($50), an in-wall outlet that lets you monitor your energy use.

The seven products announced today by Quirky bring its portfolio of Wink connected-home devices to 47, and range from $15 lightbulbs to $578 water heaters. However, Wink faces competition in this still nascent category from companies such as Staples and Lowes, who themselves have launched their own lines of smart home products.

It's too early to tell which system will prevail, but Quirky's partnership with GE, as well as its distribution through Home Depot, could give it an edge.