Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The lightbulb reinvented (kickstarter.com)
231 points by shimms on Sept 16, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 129 comments

From an efficiency/sustainability point of view, I have a basic discomfort with the idea of throwing away all the wifi/controller stuff each time you need a new bulb. I know LEDs don't run out very fast, but they do run out. This has cost implications too.

What about a setup where there are two levels of screw: the LED bulb screws into a fixture with the wifi stuff inside, which then screws into the light fixture? Then when the bulb goes out, you can just unscrew the LEDs without having to throw away all the other components.

Maybe there's something I'm missing though; I am by no means knowledgable about electronics.

It's funny, I had the exact opposite worry. With a rated life of 25 years, the WiFi components are likely to become obsolete long before the bulb itself quits. If I buy one of these, am I going to end up maintaining an obsolete WiFi network in the 2030s just to run my household lights?

The bulbs communicate with their master bulb using 802.15.4, so you'd just need one replacement master that supports whatever new wifi standard emerges. Of course the company itself also needs to still exist in 25 years...

Given how long most wifi stuff I've seen lasts, and the fact that the bulbs are rated for 25 years, I'm more worried about the wifi components failing and bulbs becoming useless, of the software becoming obsolete and not being able to run on newer devices.

From an efficiency point of view, what about all of these bulbs which will now be drawing power 24/7 for the wifi components, along with everything else in the house that has a standby function?

Just get LED bulbs and use the off switch.

Only the master bulb runs WiFi, the rest run something (zigbee?) that's lower power.

The WiFi radios 2 decades from now will probably be much different, anyway. Just look how quickly we've come since 802.11 A.

Even more reason for the double screw idea. You can upgrade the WiFi radio when your network becomes incompatible in the future.

This is definitely feature overload for a typical person.

I find it funny how on HN there arguments that non-replaceable batteries in MBPs are okay, and at the same time, that a small gadget must have user-replaceable radio.

It'll be a bit costlier, but as long as it comes in one piece (with separate parts screwed into each other), then it'll look exactly the same to the typical person.

Except that those who bother to read the manual will find out they can save some money by not chucking away the whole thing.

Non-replaceable batteries are not okay. And while I've seen plenty of Mac fans here, I can't say I've seen anybody defend this particular anti-feature.

Personally, I prefer to have better industrial design + a more solid feeling device to a removable battery (though all things equal, a replaceable battery would be nice...it just is far down my list). And I've seen similar defenses quite a bit.

This is a hardware project, not a software one. In virtual world we can talk about keeping features to the minimum and iterating the product as fast as we can. But we don't live in post-scarcity world where energy is free. Designing products for more-less planned obsolescence, while maybe good from marketing point of view, strikes me as wrong and harmful to the global society.

I think that this is because non-replaceable batteries in laptops and non-replaceable radios in lights are not directly analogous.

For one thing (I assume) you could get the battery replaced/fixed at an Apple store if you needed; the real issue is doing it yourself. Retrofitting new radios into old bulbs seems less likely to be a service that will be offered.

Additionally, the lifespan of the computer is 20 years less than the lifespan of the bulb. With the computer, if you had to get a new one when the battery ran out, in most cases it wouldn't be too much of a tragedy since you would be looking forward to a bigger better machine anyway. For the bulb, though, the wifi component could be obsoleted within a few years, while the actual light source has the capacity to run for another 20. So for each object, the ratio of when one part fails to when the user would want to replace it anyway is quite different.

Plus the non-replaceable batteries have the theoretical up-sides of leading to better build quality and industrial design, which is less apparently true of the bulb.

HN is not homogenous.

It's important to note that the batteries are replaceable with a visit to the Genius bar. In the case of this light, there is no such option. You won't be able to take 20-30 lightbulbs from your house and upgrade the radio in five years, you'll just have to replace the lightbulbs.

I'd be generally more worried about the power supply components. There's a tiny switchmode supply in there, which means capacitors. Which would be my main concern for early failures, I'd think far earlier than the LED under normal conditions.

Hopefully they'll be able to arrange good quality caps for manufacturing, even better if the whole unit can be opened up and serviced. Although it's questionable whether 99.5% of the market would ever try and fix it.

No, I agree. This idea is braindead because it's much more effective to focus on a device you plug in between the outlet in your wall and the devices you want to control power to. A standard already exists for half the project which is called x10.

Have you ever worked with X10? It's a standard finalised in 1975, and this shows.

Take a look under "Commands getting lost", "Relatively slow", "Limited functionality", "Interference and lack of encryption" for a quick overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X10_(industry_standard)#Limita...

Certainly there are good things about having a standard for home automation, but there are many good reasons for not adopting X10.

(I take heart in the fact this project has some committed hacker types involved with it, Andy Gelme was a founder of the Melbourne hackerspace and I absolutely believe the Kickstarter project when it says the device will have a specified API and be hackable. Not an open standard, but at least interopable.)

Right, because there's no difference between the average person changing a lightbulb and messing with their wiring.

This is probably how things are going to work until its commonplace for houses to be built with x10.

I think this is targeted at ceiling lights ... and it isn't easy to futz with in-the-wall wiring for the typical user.

Sadly, most of the x10 adapters don't work with LED bulbs. (the "lamp" ones, the "appliance" ones should be okay)

Only one master bulb has a full WiFi setup, which consumes 2-3W. The rest of the bulbs communicate with the master using an 802.15.4 mesh network (which is very very energy efficient).

" the LED bulb screws into a fixture with the wifi stuff inside"

I would also think that the electronics could be small enough to simply be an insert between one of the conductors and the bulb. There are, for example, inserts (size of a coin iirc) that simply can flash a bulb when seated in between the screwbase and the bulb.

This is possible, but the features would be limited to only on/off and basic dimming.

The hardware in question costs only pennies, probably less than the shell of the bulb itself.

This is a brilliant idea

I like the idea of "f.lux for my house". Might improve my sleeping. This part of the project is potentially life-altering.

Lots of people in the comments are getting hung up on the "control your lights over wifi" aspect of this project, which is far less interesting. INSTEON is (AFAIK) the current best solution for home automation, and already does this pretty well: http://www.insteon.net/

It's backwards compatible with X10, uses both powerline and RF to send control signals, and each INSTEON device also functions as a repeater, so you're far less likely to run into poor signal issues that plagued X10.

The bulb featured there is the most reasonable retrofit I have seen. Too bad that hundreds of dollars of bulbs and controller don't make much sense for small places.

I wonder how much they have looked at sticking the electronics into switches that would fit inside of normal lamps (probably without the dimmer) or chips for televisions (the $30 LED bulb sort of suggests that they are charging plenty for a simple controllable outlet, at $45).

You could achieve a f.lux for your house with a timed dimmer, I think.

Lowering the brightness helps, but there's more to it than that. Changing the color temperature is one of the cool features of both f.lux and this bulb. The idea is a warmer color temperature at night acts less like the sun.

Ah, I hadn't thought about that. I was about to write off this bulb as utterly ridiculous, but this might actually be useful for people with sleep problems.

This. Is. Featurebloat.

Seriously, color changing? Dimming? Make a simple natural light bulb, a smartphone app and a wifi wall switch. Latter is far far more important than an ability to drown my kitchen in a shade of green. Keep it useful, damn it. Not a single home automation company gets this. Usability is a key to adoption.

Belkin's Wemo[1] line does pretty much what you're suggesting. I've got a few of their units, and I've been pretty happy with them.

[1] http://www.belkin.com/wemo/

For a good portion of the video, I was thinking the same exact thing. I can't see the average person either needing or even /wanting/ most of those features. From a work perspective, I want to turn my lights on. And I want to turn them off. That's it.

I think the part of the video that really demonstrated where money will be made was when he spent 5 seconds saying "Lifx has commercial applications as well." Now there I can see all these features being useful. (But I suppose tailoring a Kickstarter video towards restaurant/club/bar owners wouldn't net as much capital. :P)

The popularity of dimmer switches suggests that your tastes are far from universal. Also, Ikea has a range of color-adjustable LED lights, and they seem to fly off the shelves.

I agree on the featurebloat. And the video is to long imo. Make your sale and get out of dodge.

In any case this product, while cool, reminds me a little of what Steve Blank calls a "novelty" effect (I was at SM with Steve at the time of that product).


Well, I love it and think it's very useful.

The home automation market has been an utter disaster for decades. I hoped the "green" movement would nudge it mainstream. Not yet, and Google even killed off their home electricity monitoring projects.

Here's a similar product:


No color change capability and requires some other stuff as part of the system, but once you start turning on lightbulbs you quickly realize you need relays and sensors to control other things, too. So then you want a "system." And the systems currently suck.

> And the systems currently suck.

The stuff that gets pitched to consumers for self install is pretty terrible.

When I was in high school I used to work as an electrician for a security/fire/cctv/home automation company. I remember doing a brand new summer house for a CEO of some large corp in roughly 1999-2000 time frame. Even then everything in the house was controlled via low volage relay. Outlets, lights, dimmers, curtains, everything. Each room had a iPad like touch panel on the wall that controlled the entire thing.

There are actually some really good systems out there, they just require that you considered it when you built the house to wire for it ahead of time or go through a costly retrofit. Also the 'best' systems were not that simple to setup. They weren't designed for the user to install so the configuration would often involve punching hexadecimal codes into a controller down in the basement to get the initial setup correct.

Let's change it (company name in my profile). And I'm most disappointed that Google just "disappeared" Android@Home, which is exactly what this Kickstarter seems to be pitching.

I like it. Not that I want my entire house to be purple and green but they mentioned something about changing the light color when receiving a notification. I'm thinking it would be cool to have the light on my desk turn to red when Pingdom reports one of my websites offline. Or to have the lights flash red when my security cameras report motion.

The second thing I would do with this is hook up a voice recognition gadget, and program the system to turn every bulb red when it heard me say "Red alert."

Notifications were the only feature that made me think "wow, that's cool". Phone LED notifications are great, but sometimes my phone isn't visible.

@title: Why does it explicitely mention the iPhone alone... like it was the only important gadget.. (yes the page says iPhone and Android). "from your smartphone" would have been better

Yeah good point - pitty I can't edit it.

Unfortunately, I know from working on my own smarthome project that the "turn lights on or off based on location" is patented and secured already.

I think Color Kinetics has locked up almost everything useful with RGB LED arrays.

I'm assuming the LIFX did their due-diligence and attained "freedom to operate" before undergoing this venture - or is "assumption the mother of all f-ups"?

They are clearly using a Philips led lightbulb as a base. Maybe this kickstarter project is in conjunction with Philips.

Strangely most people who come up with these sorts of ideas independently usually operate with one of two perspectives:

1) I know I thought of this idea so I've got a right to use it.

2) This idea is pretty obvious, it just hasn't had anyone willing to implement it.

Both of which give the implementer a false sense of security. People who've done this once or twice and been hit on the head by the stupid patent hammer, will look around to see if anyone has done something similar, especially 15 - 20 years ago, and if they can create a credible path to their idea which doesn't involve things that are patented. Then they file a provisional patent to be sure they don't get stomped on.

When I saw http://www.smarthome.com/2672-222/INSTEON-LED-Bulb/p.aspx up-thread I wondered immediately whether the ribs were functional as they otherwise might be infringing on a design patent for the bulb, looks very similar to me. If there are patents on the Insteon implementation seems highly likely they'd be generalised to independent wifi networked devices.

Looks like the Insteon needs a controller but you can have 3 smartphone controlled lights (3x$30 + $99 controller) using their system now for the price of the $196 pledge (which gives you 4 bulbs).

Doesn't mean that it's not worthwhile, just that there may be roadblocks ahead.

Wow, that light looks very similar, I wondered if there was a design patent so I just did an 'Insteon' search on the USPTO database [1]. Could be a challenge ahead [2].

[1] http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sec...

[2] http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sec...

I prefer 'assume makes an ass of u and me'.

I've never understood why it makes an ass out of the "me" in that context. I can only imagine scenarios in which the person doing the assuming is making an ass out of themselves, not where their assuming is making an ass out of other people.

Some people simply respond more strongly to clever wordplay (Ooh look! It's the same letters!) than to sound reasoning.

Because assumptions generally make fools of both sides - you'll assume that someone will tell you and they'll assume that you knew.

Which patents?

You guys need to expose a simple API so that I can program a home server to control many lights. Navigating a different screen for each light in my house would be a pain. You're essentially recreating part of the X10 ecosystem with wifi. At this point you should just buy a bunch if x10 and reimplent the features. They've had nearly 30 years to explore how people use this stuff.

If you had a few of these in your house a an iPhone camera app could be made that controls the lights so that you could compose the shot and the lighting. It could even briefly brighten the lights like a flash setup for just the duration of the exposure. That way the lighting needed for the moment of the shot needn't interfere with the ambience of the room.

Interesting things could be done by having lighting shifts programmed to change during video shots, too.

You might be interested in this other product that does what you're talking about: http://riftlabs.com/kick-overview-betterpics/ (it was also on Kickstarter).

I'm not affiliated with them, but I was super impressed and eagerly await buying a bunch.

I wonder if it can be paired to multiple phones? Otherwise you'll end up with only one person who can turn the lights on or off.

They say they have mac/pc apps as well. I'd assume anyone on the local network could control the lights, probably with optional password protection?

nice idea, but unfortunately I do not see this becoming 'big' for a couple of reasons. For instance, even though one can buy LEDs advertised as having a 'warm' colour, the light produced is still rather harsh compared to halogen for instance. Most people do not want an entire house, or even a single room, lighted purely by LEDs. Same goes for the colour: on paper it's nice to read that colour can set a certain mood and such, but is there really any practical use? Who wants to sit in a blue/green/red room anyway? Another factor is that it seems to be a small subset of an actual existing but practical system: current domotica systems can be controlled by your smartphone, by a pc, over the internet, you name it. And there are already dozens of them.

My bedroom is lit by LEDs and it's fine. I also use a big 17W bulb as a table lamp and it's often the only light I have turned on in my apartment. It works almost as well as my big 6x40W halogen fixture. (Though obviously the halogen light is much brighter, there is "enough" light either way for things like walking around, getting dressed, etc.)

The only problem is that I think the color rendering index must be pretty bad. When I'm only using the table lamp, everything feels black-and-white like it does at night under sodium lamps.

I otherwise have a bunch of halogen lights, and they aren't that great either. I'm beginning to think it was a little early to ban incandescent lamps.

The poor color rendering is what the comment above you is talking about. If a bulb makes your wood walls look funny and the picture of your girlfriend on the desk look like an alien, it's not going to go mainstream. Especially if it costs $50.

Mike Herf (of Picasa/F.lux fame) wrote some articles when CFLs were going to solve everything, you know, three years ago. Applies to LEDs as well. His wife is a painter. Let their struggle be your guide:


Great link, definitely worth reading.

I use a red CFL desk lamp when I'm up late hacking. It seems less disruptive to normal sleep cycles than a full-spectrum light.

This would be great for connecting up to a CI server or monitoring system. If a build breaks, flash red or maybe if the site goes down go to solid red.

My previous company used to use this:


For instance, you can use yellow for "warning/important" level and red for "critical" level, and lights-only for staging environment and light & sound alarm for production environment, for instance. Pretty expensive, though.

I can't even find the price on this page, and already made a negative image about this company just because of this :)

I understand that sentiment is popular on HN, but not listing prices is pretty standard for B2B. At least in Japan (where Patlite is based), most businesses will not discard a potential vendor just because they don't list prices on their webpage.

You don't want to work in a room with a flashing light.

Also, there are tons of colored LEDs that integrate with CI systems already. And it's something you can whip up with an ATtiny or similar in about 10 minutes anyway. (Hint, your VGA port has an I2C pin on it.)

I like the project. It's neat. Also neat is watching the video and seeing hundreds of dollars pour into the Kickstarter project.

I guess the WiFi/logic controller is on-board each individual bulb? Then you would pair(?) the bulbs to the app?

If that's the case, I wonder what they're doing about security - since most anyone skilled would be able to hack different homes with different light setups.

Hopefully this doesn't get held up by patent trolls...

I was wondering about the security as well. I would imagine it would make it easier for thieves to rob a house where they could turn off all the lights. Or turn on the lights and see if there is any reaction (to see if anyone is home).

This is one of those times where I wonder what these guys think Phillips, GE, and others are spending hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars on LED lighting solutions are doing. In some industries you can say "Oh they just don't get it" but lighting is so fashion driven and so fundamental to everything we do these entrenched players don't miss out on much.

I imagine they're spending tons on focus groups and market research trying to find out what people want. They're probably not hearing "we want to turn lights on and off with our iPhones". Or at least not enough people are saying that to justify them building a product line around that concept and selling it at Home Depot.

Meanwhile, this kickstarter project has raised enough to prove the concept and at least get me a couple of those lights.

I'm a bit put off by their claim of 133 lumens per watt. (6 watts for 800 lumens) and I've bought / used several LED lights and designed lights for my RV which runs off batteries when not hooked up to an external AC source. Love their demo video though, think it will be a killer product. I look forward to being able to buy one once they are in production.

Shame this uses WiFi rather than Power line networking; I'm sure it would be more efficient and future proof.

This "just works". Power line networking would require a wireless device plugged in the wall in order to control the lights from a phone.

It's pretty wasteful though. That's a lot of useful wifi gear being thrown out with every spent bulb.. It would probably be more efficient (and cheaper for more than one or two bulbs) for them to handle all of the logic and wireless in a single powerline wall wart and then have the bulbs be dumb listeners on that.

I was thinking the same. Could it be to do with the lighting circuit being separate to the wall-socket circuits?

That's a good point; I honestly don't know. I suspect that it would be fine as I suspect circuit breakers allow a reasonable frequency through and it's the main isolator that protects the outside world from your powerlines tech. I may be completely wrong.

$70 for ONE bulb, so that's $280 for 4 in one room, You could hack an LED bulb together to cheap using cables instead of Wifi, A better future proof idea would be to have a very very customizable app that you sell, An app that let's you interface with computer controlled Lights

$49 for 4+, and yes the DIY is much cheaper. But the Kickstarter is about paying more to support the idea. The final product should be substantially cheaper...

Eventually it will be substantially cheaper, but don't expect it to be cheaper out of the gate.

You do understand that you aren't buying a bulb for $70 right? You are funding a startup and in return you get a reward of one of the bulbs. Kickstarter isn't a retail store, so many people miss the point of it. It's the same as when people complain about delays and say they wouldn't have "bought" the product if they'd known it would take so long.

Maybe you should build your house yourself while you're at it. Kickstarter is for people who wants to test their idea in a market.

Is it just me or is Kickstarter addicting? It seems like every week there is some new cool project posted and I can't help but back it. If something like this were at Walmart I probably wouldn't give it a second thought, but on Kickstarter I've already in for 2.

Very cool. 6 Watts, wifi controlled, colors and dimming, and plugs into a standard lightbulb socket. Mayhaps, the transformation from 110VAC adds to the complexity and possibly power consumption. Power over ethernet might be a better option. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_over_Ethernet

We're using 12V with many white LEDs that consume .1 Watts powered entirely from the sun. The tiny 12V sockets have intially caused some problems because there are two prongs on the base and the base, and there appear to be different ways of wiring this.

I'd find this potentially interesting if I had any confidence that it wouldn't burn out in a few months like every other "lasts for years" bulb I've tried.

Two cases here.

Many CFL bulbs are junk. Their "years" claim assumes they are only used for brief periods each day, and even at that I doubt they can reach their warrantee period. That doesn't matter though, because you will be unable to find any mechanism for contacting the manufacturer about the warrantee. I assume they have zero claims.

LED bulbs are different. Heat is a killer. You might be burning them up in an enclosed or even partially enclosed fixture.

I've equipped 4 homes completely with CFL bulbs -- every single bulb but the oven, range hood, and refrigerator. Home #1 was in '99. I usually buy whatever is a good deal at Wal Mart and whatever major hardware store is nearest, trying small batches until I find a color/temp in a bulb that I like. I've had maybe a dozen bulbs fail during that time, including dumb breakage. And we run these things hard, often 8-to-12 hours a day in some of the living spaces in winter.

Whenever I see CFL threads, there's always some who claim they never last long. I don't know what these folks do to their bulbs, but for me they've lasted many, many years. Certainly long enough to pay for themselves in savings over incandescents -- and then some.

> Their "years" claim assumes they are only used for brief periods each day,

Even if you read the fine print saying "if used 3 hours a day", and divide the stated lifetime by 8 (even though they don't stay on 24 hours a day), they still don't last that long.

> LED bulbs are different. Heat is a killer. You might be burning them up in an enclosed or even partially enclosed fixture.

If they can't function in the same environment as a standard bulb, that seems like a major design defect. And on top of that, even the ones used in mostly-open lamps don't last noticeably longer.

I've been using CFLs for a decade, and the vast majority have lasted for years. (I think I can remember one that burned out in a few months.)

As with many things, buying the very cheapest is not the way you're most likely to have a good experience.

6 years ago I moved into my current house and bought new CFLs for all of the fittings, all of them are still going. All were the very cheapest the supermarket had to offer. Even if they all go tomorrow, I've saved way more in electric costs than the cost of the bulbs, but they show no sign of going yet. At least over here in the UK, the price doesn't seem to dictate the life time. The higher priced ones only seem to "add value", things like better appearance, different colour warmths etc.

Because I enjoy all the radio signal pollution and I want more.

Y won't they make this, but in the light bulb use the lan over power, then plug a lan over power adapter in where your router is. Connect it to the router, and you can then control it via your network (sorta like a media box). But then you have the problem that every lightbulb is a "computer" on the power network and I don't know how that would work.

I'm guessing because there are already products that using LAN over powerline.

From Insteon website [emphasis mine]:

>"The INSTEON LED Bulb features simple setup, intuitive control and easy linking to any INSTEON controller, such as a handheld remote. When paired with the free INSTEON app, the SmartLinc Hub turns an iOS/Android smartphone or tablet into a fully functioning remote control of the bulb or an entire INSTEON network. The bulb is fully dimmable and can be added to any number of scenes to create custom lighting at the touch of a button.

The INSTEON LED Bulb contains INSTEON’s patented dual-band communication technology, the most reliable, efficient communication system available. Just like other INSTEON devices, the bulb acts as a network signal repeater and sends signals over both radio frequencies (RF) and a home’s existing wires (powerline).

The INSTEON LED Bulb retails for $29.99. For more information or to watch a demonstration video, visit www.insteon.com/bulb." //

> Because I enjoy all the radio signal pollution and I want more.

Unless you're operating some sensitive specialized radio equipment, is it really a problem?

> But then you have the problem that every lightbulb is a "computer" on the power network and I don't know how that would work.


So, how would one go about connecting it a password protected network?

I asked on Kickstarter and Phil Bosua responded:

"When you launch the app for the first time it guides you through a simple configuration process. You enter your network password and then the device and all lights are paired."

I'd guess that initially, an ad-hoc network is created, through which the bulb can be configured with the Wi-Fi password.

I think I'd prefer the bulbs to all be Zigbee and instead drop a dongle on an ethernet port on the router.

I think they are their own network, so you don't connect them to your existing one.

http://amzn.com/B006RJRBY6 - a similar product, but not so smart. I guess you could hook some IR blasters to a WiFi-enabled device (eg: OpenWRT router) and write software that replicates the same functionality.

Given the department of energy's smart grid/home/appliance goals. They might be better off with a DoE grant than a kickstarter (better for them, not necessarily better for consumers/taxpayers/etc)

I was pleased to see that you can use your existing switches. For the majority of cases I can't imagine anything more irritating than having to get my phone out, open up an app and find the right light control, just to turn the light on. It would definitely be convenient to switch all lights off when I go to bed though.

Coloured lighting seems a bit naff but maybe there are more subtle ways to use it than make your lounge look like a nightclub.

Your existing switches still work assuming you just want to turn the lights off. Of course then you have to flick the switch back on before they can be controlled by the app again.

And what about turning the lights back on when they were shut off with the app? Perhaps cycling the switch will make them come back on.

I asked them about this and they said it'll still work to turn them on without the app (your assumption about flicking the switch is correct).

A similar product which was doing the rounds recently: http://bluetoothbulb.com/

They claim that one can still use the existing switches in addition to controlling the bulbs via WiFi, and this is a feature that seems somewhat important for e.g. guests, situations when you don't have your phone on you, etc.

But I'm curious how it would work, switching of the light switch would also kill any fancy WiFi interface to the bulb.

I'm taking a wild guess here.. but I assume the bulb will reset to on @ 100% when the power is cut and turned back on..

That way, you can get manual control of the light by just flicking the power off/on..

But once somebody switches it off (with a switch), yo cannot switch it back on with the phone. It seems to me that having a home automation system that includes the light switches would be much better.

That's how similar products work. Some contain batteries to remember state. Some are full duplex and request state / update status. Some even work.

Another fun scenario: somebody crashes into a utility pole near your house, the power flickers, all your lights come on, the ceiling fans spin up 100%, and the ashes from your fireplace are distributed all over your house.

Or the lightning strike. Computer works, internet works, can't turn on any lights.

Visit a home automation forum for these and other tales of nerd homes gone bad.

I've wanted to do this to my place for years, but I've always wanted to do it to improve the lighting - more smaller sources so you don't get blinding looking at the globe and better locations.

Alas I rent so I've never been able to do it, and $99 is a bit much for a pair of lightbulbs.

Why would anyone want to use something like a smartphone to control their lighting?

Smartphones are todays temporary fad, and will change every few years.

The lighting of your house, however, is supposed to last a few decades, unless you like totally redocorating every few years.

Smartphones are todays temporary fad

You think carrying a mobile computing device wherever you go is a "temporary fad"? Really?

No, I do not. However, today's specific implementation is. Are you really convinced that you'll be able to run an iPhone app from today in 10 years?

It's just that, I'd love to have a fancy lighting system, but please with its own specific remote(s), not a device you replace and that changes every few years.

Changing lightbulbs =/= "totally redecorating".

Besides, while smartphones may change over the years, they will be replaced by something where a smart lightbulb would be equally applicable. For instance, if at some point in the future we are able to integrate computers with our brains, we could use our brain-computers to turn on/change colour of our lightbulbs.

They say that they will release an SDK so you can connect to it in the future too, whatever kind of device you have.

Crazy to see how they raised $100,000 in a little over 24-hours.

Wouldn't it make more sense to make the actual lightswitch wi-fi controllable rather than the lightbulb?

I think a big part of the pitch of this thing is that it's ultra-easy to install, even in places where you can't change the electrical stuff.

If the wifi stuff was in the switch, you'd have to turn off the electricity, unscrew the faceplate, unwire the current switch, take it out, wire in the new switch, fix it in place, screw on the faceplate. Then, unscrew the current bulb and screw in the LED one. And if you move, you'd have to do it all over again.

This thing, you just unscrew the current bulb and screw in the new one and you're done.

Works in a dorm, even a hotel room, too.

That would also likely undo the color adjustment features (or make them really hard to implement). I'm probably most excited about that part if it works well.

It looks like their goal is to make the entire project "electrician-free". Replacing a light switch is still intimidating for a large number of people.

Or not possible if you're renting.

I love the project but I hope they've been really serious about security

Would jump at something like this for outdoor, solar lights.

and with IPv6, each light bulb can have its own globally unique address!

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact