July 1, 2013
Smart Bulb’s Bright Idea
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
While there have actually been a few attempts in recent years to reinvent the wheel, including one that had looked to Kickstarter to get rolling, the crowd funding site is being used by Stan Angelo of Smart Bulb to shine new light on the light bulb.
Light bulbs, unlike the wheel, have actually evolved since the days when Thomas Edison had his big bright idea. In recent years, there have been attempts to make more energy efficient bulbs, especially as an incandescent can lose up to 90 percent of their energy as heat rather than light. This resulted in efforts to turn off the incandescent in favor of compact fluorescent and LED.
The former has a problem in that it contains mercury -- a toxic material that makes recycling of the bulbs a problem -- and offers a light many people don't care for; while the latter isn't available in comparable wattages and tends to cost ten or more times the cost of incandescent bulbs.
"Can you imagine how confused the normal consumer is right now?" Stan Angelo told redOrbit. "The lighting giants, even GE have never been able to educate the consumers. Consumers were happy to pay $4 for a bulb and those days are waning."
This year, 75-watt incandescent bulbs were pulled from store shelves, joining the banning of 100-watt bulbs last year. However, Angelo said he found a way around the ban. His bright idea was to create the Smart Bulb, and he's now looking to Kickstarter to make his project a reality.
"Incandescent bulbs that have a safety coating aren't being banned," he added. "We tough coated our bulbs for safety reasons and as a result it won't break into a million of pieces if dropped."
This wasn't the only safety feature for the bulbs, which are currently being developed as incandescent bulbs but could eventually be made with halogen and even LEDs.
"Millions or even billions of incandescent bulbs will still be sold, and there are still applications where even LED can't be the replacement," Angelo noted. "Everyone thinks LED is the solution for everything but that isn't true. In fact, there are thousands of light fixtures that will never work with an LED."
Thus, instead of delivering a better bulb, Angelo has developed a smarter incandescent.
Currently, this includes a number of dimming and flashing technologies. These include a six-hour timer that can work without the need for an external timing device; a bulb that can go from normal solid light to flashing and could aid in an emergency; and even a bulb that can automatically turn itself off. Other bulbs include one with a four-way dimmer, and another that dims from full light to nightlight.
Unlike app-based dongles, all these bulbs contain a built-in microprocessor and the only controller is the light switch.
"All this technology is controlled by a flick of the switch," added Angelo.
While at press time Smart Bulb had 53 backers, it was still shy of the $32,000 goal. The bulb did get interest for its novel approach to common problems.
"We've heard from emergency workers who see the merits to the flasher bulb," Angelo commented. "That flasher is going to save lives when second counts."
As noted, most of these work by merely flicking the switch. In the case of the flasher, it is a regular steady bulb, but switching the light to the off position and back on again quickly causes the microprocessor to switch to the flashing mode.
Likewise, the timer works by when it is turned on. In this case, Angelo told redOrbit that it works by turning it on, in which case the bulb will then remain on for six hours before turning off. It will turn back on exactly 18 hours after that. To change the setting, users only need turn it off and back on and the timer is ready to go.
"We aren't about apps, our technology puts this right in the bulb," said Angelo.
That could be a bright idea indeed.