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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.

MORE: Best Smart Home Gadgets 2014

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.

  • Goto Afterburners
    This and Nest are the most ridiculous inventions I've seen. We literally leave our thermostat on auto and on one temperature...period. Just more junk that the homeowner thinks they need.
    Reply
  • Kary K
    I would tend to agree with Goto Afterburners. Internet connectivity might be okay, but even that has downsides. But Nest's learning feature is stupid. As to this device, not having anything on the face is just a bit short of idiotic. And having multiple sensors in a house just means the heating system isn't balanced or well designed. Adding another sensor will just mean the entire house gets hotter or colder.
    Reply
  • Element D
    I have a nest and do not think its ridiculous, it's actually nice and efficient. One thing the Nest does that I really enjoy is that unlike a standard thermostat when it shuts off it shuts everything off, the nest will keep the fan going to clear the rest of the remaining cold/hot air out of the vents. I also like (living in Texas, this happens often) being able to turn the air down or heat up on the way home after dramatic temp changes.
    Reply
  • Another Mike Smith
    This and Nest are the most ridiculous inventions I've seen. We literally leave our thermostat on auto and on one temperature...period. Just more junk that the homeowner thinks they need.

    You don't even turn it off when you go to work, or at night? If you don't mind wasting energy on heating/cooling, then this kind of device is probably not for you.
    Reply
  • kigmatzomat
    Wink is a high-profile but imperfect product. It has the problem of requiring always-on internet to work and has no desktop support (Android/iOS only). Wink uses zwave but it doesn't support generic devices, only specific zwave devices. the prices for Wink-compatible devices tend to be 5-10% more expensive than generic equivalents.

    There are other, less restrictive zwave devices. I went with a Mi Casa Verde Vera2. It is completely autonomous but can be controlled via the internet if I want, can be controlled locally with any web browser, works with commodity devices, and has plug ins for tons of devices, like Hue.

    My house should have had dual-zone heating/cooling but it doesn't so the upstairs is either a furnace or the downstairs is an icebox. So I've got a zwave thermometer in my bedroom and a zwave thermostat I bought at Lowes for Iris. The thermostat has a regular program but the Vera over-rides it based on the remote sensor and a schedule. It is also very, very nice to be able to adjust the house temperature from the bedroom and not run down stairs. I also use it to control my Hue bulbs so I can use one app for all my gadgets.
    Reply
  • Kary K
    14570681 said:
    I have a nest and do not think its ridiculous, it's actually nice and efficient. One thing the Nest does that I really enjoy is that unlike a standard thermostat when it shuts off it shuts everything off, the nest will keep the fan going to clear the rest of the remaining cold/hot air out of the vents. I also like (living in Texas, this happens often) being able to turn the air down or heat up on the way home after dramatic temp changes.

    The fan remaining on is a function of the furnace or air conditioner, not the thermostat. Even a $30 thermostat will do that.
    Reply
  • Kary K
    14572155 said:
    This and Nest are the most ridiculous inventions I've seen. We literally leave our thermostat on auto and on one temperature...period. Just more junk that the homeowner thinks they need.

    You don't even turn it off when you go to work, or at night? If you don't mind wasting energy on heating/cooling, then this kind of device is probably not for you.

    The word "auto" is short for "automatic" and refers to a programmable thermostat that can be set to change the temperature when you are usually at work, or when it us "usually" night time.
    Reply
  • Another Mike Smith
    The fan remaining on is a function of the furnace or air conditioner, not the thermostat. Even a $30 thermostat will do that.
    Never happened in my house, till I got a Nest. And my previous thermostat was a "smart" programmable unit, but it didn't control the fan separately from the furnace or A/C.
    Reply
  • macserv
    "The fan remaining on is a function of the furnace or air conditioner, not the thermostat. Even a $30 thermostat will do that."

    "Never happened in my house, till I got a Nest."

    It's called AirWave, and it is, indeed, a function of the Nest. When cooling, it keeps the fan on longer than the A/C unit would, continuing to blow air past the still-cold evaporator coil. Over time, the Nest figures out how well this works for your specific home, A/C equipment, and weather conditions. Once it knows this, it will actually turn off the compressor early, and use only the residual coolness in the evaporator to hit your target temperature.

    Is a Nest necessary? Of course not. Will it save you time, money, and frustration, and add style to the room? For most people, yes, it will. If you don't have the money, or the will to spend it on a Nest, that's fine. But before posting comments about it being "junk," or "ridiculous," I'd suggest learning about its capabilities.
    Reply
  • Another Mike Smith
    14997116 said:
    "The fan remaining on is a function of the furnace or air conditioner, not the thermostat. Even a $30 thermostat will do that."

    "Never happened in my house, till I got a Nest."

    Is a Nest necessary? Of course not. Will it save you time, money, and frustration, and add style to the room? For most people, yes, it will. If you don't have the money, or the will to spend it on a Nest, that's fine. But before posting comments about it being "junk," or "ridiculous," I'd suggest learning about its capabilities.

    I'm not the one who said it was junk, someone else said that.
    Reply