September 18, 2012
LIFX: The Brightest, Coolest Thing Going On Kickstarter
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
For as long as the light bulb has been around, there haven´t been many great advancements to the existing product. Outside of the new, energy efficient models, the basic functionality still exists: On or off.
The makers of LIFX smart bulbs want to bring modern technology to the humble light bulb, including Wi-Fi and smartphone connectivity.
The idea behind LIFX is incredible, and once you start thinking about the different applications a light bulb can have when it´s given the same basic technology as the most connected gadgets, you´ll be surprised at how excited you´ve become over a relatively ancient piece of tech.
For Phil Bosua, the inventor of the LIFX smartbulb, boosting the functionality of the bulb wasn´t enough. Today´s society not only demands high performance products, they also demand energy efficiency. The LIFX smart bulb delivers both.
"LIFX answers a need that is well and truly overdue. Everyone in the world needs light bulbs. Existing light bulbs are based on an archaic technology that threatens our environment,” reads the Vision Statement for LIFX.
“Light bulbs consume approximately 20% of electricity in homes around the world. They need to be more efficient, smarter and last longer. In the twenty-first century, people need lighting that matches the "smart culture" and eco aware sensibilities of our day."
First, the LIFX is an incredibly fun and functional LED bulb, delivering brilliant, power-conscious illumination to any common household fixture. As an LED bulb, LIFX is capable of not only controlled dimming, but also multiple colors for multiple moods, rooms, or situations.
Though the bulb itself is a hardware project, the LIFX smartbulb is driven by software. The smartbulb app, which will be available on Android and iOS, allows the user to pick the colors, dim the lights, and even set the bulb on a timer. In fact, the campaign video shows one incredible use of the bulb that many parents will no doubt be impressed with. A bulb in your child´s room can be activated as a nightlight, ever-so-gradually fading the light off to give your child the peace of mind as they fall asleep. The bulb can eventually turn off at a set time if the child will remain asleep without the light, or the light can remain at its lowest setting. Either way, power consumption is kept to a minimum.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of these new bulbs (at least for this writer) is the ability to not only create mood lighting in different colors, but the ability to have the lights change colors and dance along with music. Those inclined to entertain only need a Wi-Fi network, a set of speakers and a few bulbs to throw the best impromptu parties.
This is where the, dare I say, Magic of the LIFX smartbulb comes to life. Light racks for On-the-go DJs can be expensive, so too can lighting rigs for photographers. With these bulbs, DJs and photographers only need a basic screw-in set up for lights and a Wi-Fi network (a near ubiquitous luxury these days, especially considering how nearly all smartphones can be used as hotspots) to instantly and cheaply apply their trade. DJs can set the bulbs to automatically dance to the music or use their iPads as a light board. Photographers can control the amount of light from their smartphone and even adjust the color to compliment the model´s skin tone.
When you place basic Wi-Fi technology in something as simple as a light bulb, the sky is, as they say, the limit.
And these ideas are perhaps the most basic. For those who dream even larger dreams, the founders of LIFX are building out SDKs and Hacking kits for tinkerers who have a killer application in mind.
Though the LIFX team has left some headspace for extra innovation, they´ve left the installation of these bulbs as dead simple as their ancient ancestors: Simply plug in a LIFX smartbulb, download the smartphone app, and that´s it. If you lose your phone or the Wi-Fi goes down, the LIFX still operates like a normal bulb with just a flick of the switch.
This Kickstarter campaign looks to be an incredibly successful one when the dust clears. At the time of this writing, the campaign has earned 5 times more than its expected $100,000 goal with nearly 2 months to go.