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.
Just get LED bulbs and use the off switch.
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.
Except that those who bother to read the manual will find out they can save some money by not chucking away the whole thing.
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.
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.
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.)
This is probably how things are going to work until its commonplace for houses to be built with x10.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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)
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Interesting things could be done by having lighting shifts programmed to change during video shots, too.
I'm not affiliated with them, but I was super impressed and eagerly await buying a bunch.
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.
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:
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.
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 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...
Meanwhile, this kickstarter project has raised enough to prove the concept and at least get me a couple of those lights.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As with many things, buying the very cheapest is not the way you're most likely to have a good experience.
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.
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." //
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.
"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."
Coloured lighting seems a bit naff but maybe there are more subtle ways to use it than make your lounge look like a nightclub.
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.
But I'm curious how it would work, switching of the light switch would also kill any fancy WiFi interface to the bulb.
That way, you can get manual control of the light by just flicking the power off/on..
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.
Alas I rent so I've never been able to do it, and $99 is a bit much for a pair of lightbulbs.
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.
You think carrying a mobile computing device wherever you go is a "temporary fad"? Really?
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.
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.
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.