Home automation is a mess of competing companies and standards, all vying for your attention. New York startup Quirky has what it believes is the answer in the form of its Wink hub. The $79 box, developed in cooperation with GE, will go on sale at Home Depot and Amazon on July 7th, promising to facilitate communication with a cavalcade of "smart home" products over a variety of different standards. The hub is compatible with Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Bluetooth, and Z-Wave, and devices connected to it can be controlled through the Wink app. The Wink system is based on a previous collaboration between GE and Quirky, but is now open to other companies.

The Wink Hub expands on a small ecosystem of Wink products already on shelves, and Quirky tells The New York Times that 15 companies will offer nearly 60 compatible products from July. Companies creating compatible products include Honeywell, Philips, and GE. Some of the products will be labelled as "Wink app ready," and can communicate directly with the Wink mobile app over Wi-Fi, while those that require the new hub will labeled "Wink app compatible."

"We'd love not to be in the hub business."

Wink's vice president for partners Brett Worthington admits the company "would love not to be in the hub business," but says, for now, there's no alternative to control devices over multiple standards. Of course, not everything will play nice with Wink — it's up to manufacturers to opt-in — and It's also not the only solution. There are other hubs available from a range of manufacturers, and everyone from Apple to Google is making a play for the smart home — but a retail presence and the backing of giants like Honeywell and GE could prove Wink to be a winner.