WigWag Wants To Build A Lingua Franca For The Internet Of Things

This morning, I had to press a switch to turn on the lights. I had to open my own blinds and turn on my own coffee maker. And I, for one, am sick of it. It’s 2013. Where’s my smart house? 

There are a lot of roadblocks between our low-tech homes and the Internet of Things. Most significantly, there’s no common language that allows our devices to talk to one another. 

Enter WigWag, a Kickstarter-funded sensory device that wants to change that. Part operating system, part IFTTT for your physical space, WigWag wants your smart light bulb and your smart outlet to shake hands and get acquainted.

“You don’t want a smartphone app for every device in your house,” said founder Ed Hemphill. “There’s only a limited amount of value to come out of smart control. What we’re trying to do is interlink each device’s super protocols.”

Your Chatty Future Home

WigWag doesn’t just give your devices a common language, it gives them something to talk about. The sensor comes with eight different plugins that allow it to detect sound, movement, temperature or even moisture. In the video, Hemphill demonstrates how you can use WigWag to automatically turn on the lights when it senses a cooler night time temperature, or send your smartphone a text when the (snail) mail is delivered.

The magic happens in the code. WigWag is the first Internet of Things platform to be built on top of DeviceJS, a type of JavaScript that isn’t restricted by physical location. Since there are more than 12 communication protocols for smart devices in existence, DeviceJS serves as common ground through which these different protocols can interact. WigWag opens up the programming floodgates to millions of JavaScript-savvy developers. 

“You can plug in a Z-Wave dongle, a ZigBee dongle, an X10 adapter, a Insteon adapter, and over time we’ll support even more protocols,” Hemphill said. “The [WigWag] Relay also supports talking to WiFi devices like LIFX or the Phillips Hue. And cloud services such as email or Twitter.”

All you need to know to use WigWag out of the box is how to drag and drop on a smartphone. The app asks you to add one or more variables, like temperature or time of day, and then an action, like “alert phone.” Voila! It’s If This, Then That for your home.

For more complex operations, WigWag is offering Arduino shields for developers who want to take full advantage of that complexity.

Smart Homes On Steroids

If there was any doubt that WigWag was something people wanted, look no further than their Kickstarter. It’s nearly earned triple its funding goal and still has 30 days to go.

Hemphill said the WigWag team has been especially inspired by the ways backers are planning to use their devices. For example, one backer in the UK is planning to turn his WigWag into a burglar alarm. Another is hoping to put it in her aging parents’ home so it’ll alert her to their movements and when they might need her help. 

What Hemphill’s noted is that many backers already take advantage of smart devices that are already on the market. They just haven’t been able to take full advantage of them yet because the devices don't always communicate with each other. They’re trusting WigWag’s promise to change that. 

“A lot of backers are people who already live in smart homes, but want to make them easier to customize,” he said. “Customization is really required in automatization and that’s why cookie cutter solutions are frustrating for people.”