Smart Bulb May Not be Bright Idea


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LG has made a “smart” lightbulb with numerous features, many involving your smartphone. It comes across as a case of “what can we make it do?” rather than “what need should it serve?”

The bulb itself is a relatively ordinary LED bulb that fits standard light fittings and draws 10 watts at full brightness. The difference is that it contains WiFi and Bluetooth chips and the equivalent of a dimmer bulb.

If you really want, you can simply switch it on or off using an iPhone or Android smartphone. However it has four other main features using the smartphone app:

You can set a time for an alarm and the light will gradually brighten to reach full brightness at that point, the idea being it’s a more gentle wake-up than an audio alert.

You can program the light to come on and off at particular times as a security feature. Unlike some plug-in devices, there doesn’t appear to be an option to automatically detect dusk and switch on, though theoretically an app could be developed to check sunset times in the local area. One good point is that you can use the app to control multiple bulbs, for example setting it up to simulate switching off the lights downstairs, going up to bed and reading for a while before sleeping.

A party mode makes the bulb brighten, darken or blink in time with the music playing on the smartphone (Android only.)

You can set the bulb to blink when you receive a call on the phone. Exactly what practical benefit this has isn’t obvious: it’s not as if it is less disruptive to others in the room than a ringtone.

The bulb will initially go on sale in South Korea for 35,000 won, equivalent to a little over US$30. That would soon add up if you wanted to use the security feature throughout the house, so the alarm function sounds like the only thing that might justify the price on its own.





6 Responses to Smart Bulb May Not be Bright Idea

  1. “You can set the bulb to blink when you receive a call on the phone. Exactly what practical benefit this has isn’t obvious: it’s not as if it is less disruptive to others in the room than a ringtone.”

    This would benefit the hearing impaired. I know that some people use to have a lamp wired directly to their old land line to be notified of a call.

  2. Actually the bulb blinking for a call would be very helpful for people who are deaf and use the phone attached to a bluetooth TDD system.

  3. The blinking bulb would also be useful if one was doing something noisy (vacuuming, using power tools, etc). This actually sounds like a pretty useful gadget.

  4. Philips Hue has been doing this for awhile now, and doing it better. Multicolor, IFTTT integration, 3rd party developer environment, etc…