Over the course of 2012, I spotlighted a slew of internet-connected LED bulbs that the average, smartphone- or tablet-owning Joe can fiddle with — turn on and off, create crazy customized light shows in the john, etc. — without having to go through the trouble of being at home to get up and physically flip a switch. Now, the router and surge protector specialists over at Belkin have decided to cut straight to the chase by releasing a light switch, not a single light bulb, that can be remotely controlled with iOS devices and, eventually, Android 4.0 devices as well.

Joining a baby monitor, motion detector, and switch for outlets as the newest member in Belkin’s WeMo family of wireless home automation gizmos, the WeMo Light Switch debuted earlier this week at my favorite Vegas trade show that I’ve never been to, The Consumer Electronics Show, and is expected to become commercially available later this year with a price tag of $49 (the same cost as the general-purpose WeMo Switch that allows users to remotely control any electronic device that plugs into a standard outlet). As you can see, it pretty much looks like your run-of-the-mill light switch.

Darren Quick of GizMag sums it up succinctly by explaining that the WeMo Light Switch “offers slightly more basic features [than spendier internet-connected LED bulbs] while requiring a more complicated installation.” In other words, while a majority of smart LEDs are effortless in their set-up — just screw into a standard fixture, download the corresponding app, and you’re done — you have to connect this bad boy to your home’s existing electrical wiring (not always the easiest task) before performing a basic set-up on the downloadable WeMo app.

Once installed as a replacement for a standard light switch, users can turn on and off single or multiple lights from afar with the aforementioned compatible devices and set-up an on/off schedule. Convenience, security, and energy-savings are the key benefits. And if you’re feeling mischievous, you can also scare the hell out of unsuspecting houseguests, particularly those who have outstayed their welcome. Just don’t forget to set up a camera to catch their terrified reactions when the bedside lamp mysteriously starts turning itself on and off at 3 a.m. By 7 a.m., they’ll either have packed their bags and checked into a motel or taken it upon themselves to smudge the entire house. 

Via [GizMag]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

WeMo Light Switch offers energy savings and endless pranking opportunities
At CES 2013, Belkin announces that an internet-controlled light switch will join the company's existing suite of WeMo home automation products.