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The Connected Home's Battle of the Bulbs 176

Posted by Soulskill
from the bright-ideas-all-around dept.
redletterdave writes: "The current leader in smart lights is Philips Hue Wi-Fi-enabled bulbs. But the competition just heated up last week, with both LG and Samsung unveiling new smart bulbs. Not that Philips is sitting idly by—the boss of intelligent bulbs also unveiled two new products: the Hue Lux LED bulb, a cheaper, stripped-down version of its pricey original, and the Philips Hue Tap, an add-on that lets you trigger lights by touch. But which company will win the battle to illuminate the connected home?"
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The Connected Home's Battle of the Bulbs

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  • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @12:57PM (#46631935) Homepage Journal

    ...an app for that.

    • by aix tom (902140)

      Buy the new Smart Bulb App!!

      Either the free version, where you can switch your light on and off after watching just one short commercial, or the Pay-By-Switch App for those people who don't switch their light on and off that often and want to save on monthly fees, or the $5 a month Flatrate-Switching App that let's you switch on and off your lights as often as you like without any additional fees !!!!

  • If only.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by colin_faber (1083673) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @01:01PM (#46631957)
    There was some way to have a remote... Say attached to the wall, which would allow you to 'touch' it to have the lights turn on and off, or even possibly dim. One can dream..
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @01:14PM (#46632043) Homepage

      There is. Hot glue and an old iphone or old android phone.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by mmell (832646)
        I think the answer he was looking for was "light switch".
        • by chispito (1870390) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @01:39PM (#46632211)

          I think the answer he was looking for was "light switch".

          That's a pretty bright idea.

          • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @02:22PM (#46632735) Homepage Journal

            I think the answer he was looking for was "light switch".

            That's a pretty bright idea.

            Especially coming from such a dim bulb.

          • It's really difficult to lose a Light Switch . . .
            • I've lost a light switch before. My apartment has a hallway with switches at both ends, one of which was at the natural location for a laundry-sorting table by the washing machine. Stuff gradually accumulated, hiding the switch that we didn't use much anyway. At one point, the light stopped working, and when replacing the bulb didn't help, I was getting ready to tear apart the switch box to replace that one and another that was occasionally flaky, and then I remembered the other switch - which had gotten

    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      (Ignoring the joke...)

      Doesn't even need to be attached to the wall, it can truly be 'a remote'. E.g. X10.

    • There was some way to have a remote... Say attached to the wall, which would allow you to 'touch' it to have the lights turn on and off, or even possibly dim. One can dream..

      Exactly. The headline should have read "LG and Samsung follow Philips in adding pointless expensive gimmicks to lightbulbs in order to part consumers from their money".

  • Now do they really think "They're lazy! Instead of not reading the article, they will just sit back and listen. No-more bad comments, problem solved" They underestimate our power. Begin the rants!
  • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @01:08PM (#46632001) Journal
    Honestly, this sounds like a solution in search of a problem. Why would the average person want or even need to control each bulb in their house individually? Also, won't this make each bulb very expensive, and as others have pointed out, more of a security problem? I just want lighting that's inexpensive and efficient, and I think I represent the majority in this case. You want to remotely control your lighting? There are already products and systems to do that, you don't need the bulbs themselves to do it.
    • by bkmoore (1910118) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @01:16PM (#46632051)
      I also want lighting that fits in the fixtures that I have and doesn't protrude beyond the shade. Almost all of these "better lightbulbs" are just too large. Also why make intelligent light bulbs? Wouldn't it be better to put the connectivity into the light fixture, especially if it has more than one bulb?
      • by overshoot (39700)

        Wouldn't it be better to put the connectivity into the light fixture, especially if it has more than one bulb?

        If we work really, really hard at it and spend enough money on the electronics in each bulb, we can give you that by making them imitate a 19th century lamp.

      • If you sell light bulbs, you'd rather make your profit on the part people are likely to replace soon than the part they don't change very often. People are much more willing to replace a light bulb themselves than a light fixture mounted on a wall (which might require an electrician in some places, might only get replaced during a decorating change such as repainting the bathroom, and which probably still works fine, as opposed to the old incandescent bulb that burned out.)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @01:17PM (#46632055)

      The remote gimmick is to distract you from the hidden microphone and cameras built into the bulbs. The "problem" they are addressing is that they can't hear you when you're in the bathroom with the water running.

      • The remote gimmick is to distract you from the hidden microphone and cameras built into the bulbs. The "problem" they are addressing is that they can't hear you when you're in the bathroom with the water running.

        Upmod either Funny or Insightful.

        • Funny + Insightful + frightening = Funinsightening.

          • Just searched Google. Zero results. I just invented a new word!

            <Fluttershy>Yay!</Fluttershy>

    • The original Hue was nice, because as the name implied you could change the bulb to be any color.

      Or at least, as nice as the need to have bulbs of different colors. I never found that need pressing so I didn't ever get one.

      If one was single I could see possibly using them for mood lighting for "guests".

      The ability to control bulbs individually does have some practical use though - you could simulate being home when away by running a program that would turn on bulbs in different rooms in different times.

      Or,

      • Re:Some reasons (Score:5, Interesting)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @06:15PM (#46635053) Homepage

        Take a look at some Japanese lighting from companies like Panasonic and Sharp for an idea of what real smart lighting is about.

        I bought a Panasonic smart ceiling light. It can change between daylight (6000k) and warm white (2700k), depending on what task I am doing. It also has dimming of course. The output is up to 5000lm but it is diffuse so you don't get a blinding point of light or shadows everywhere. It can direct light behind the TV too to give it some backlighting while keeping the rest of the room a bit dimmer. Naturally it comes with a remote control.

        It also has a constant illumination mode. This mode adjusts the brightness automatically to keep the light level constant as the more or less light comes in through the windows. There is a more advanced version available for offices where the angle of window blinds are adjusted too so that more light comes in without being blinding. The multiple lights in the office can adjust independently so that those at the back of the room supply more illumination to keep the whole place evenly lit during the day.

        Of course it is all 100% LED, low energy. Sharp also built in their Plasmacluster air cleaning technology, and I believe Panasonic are going to do the same with theirs. Sharp have some kind of anti-insect thing as well that somehow deters moths and the like.

        Japanese lighting is awesome. Even some toilets have little night lights in the bowl so you can see when you need to get up in the middle of the night but don't want to be fully woken by 800lm. The whole smart home thing has been around for a while here. Air conditioners sense not only when you are in the room, but where in it you are so that they don't blow cold air directly at you. Remote smart-phone control is becoming quite common so you can have the room cooled just before you get home. Sharp make a robot vacuum cleaner that takes photos of stuff it finds under the sofa and sends them to your phone, just in case you lost them.

        Meanwhile UK lighting is shit and the US is still pissing itself over the phase out of incandescents. I knew there was a reason I moved.

    • by Ravaldy (2621787) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @01:22PM (#46632097)

      The major advantage I see of having lighting controlled is to allow automatic management of such. Does a bare bone interface to turn on individual lights make sense? IMHO, NO. But with the right software and hardware managing lighting and other devices in a home is an essential step to reduce the bill.

      I can tell you that by simply putting a timer on the exhaust fan, I have managed to save at least $4.00 per month. This is based on local rates and assumes one of the 3 fans was left on for 8 hours. This used to happen all the time where I'd get home and my wife or kids left the fan on after a shower or a number 2. At 160 watt hour that's almost $4.00 per month let alone the cost of replacing the fan, the lost of heating and the list goes on. The switch was expensive (I believe it was $20) but if you think about it I've had them now for 5 years so I've paid all 3 switches many times over.

      Now if we could do this for more components in our house.

      • Now if we could do this for more components in our house.

        I put a timer switch on a closet light my wife and I tend to forget to turn off. Automatically shuts off after 5 minutes as it is just a pantry/storage closet. I've got another spot with motion sensors. I have to turn the lights on but then a motion sensor turns them off if there is no motion in the room for X number of minutes. Good for locations like kitchens.

        • by Ravaldy (2621787)

          Very nice.

          Good thing is most current devices have a sleep mode which is nice. Home power monitoring could also be very nice as it would allow you to notice higher than normal usage through trending. I know this kind of hardware exists already. I should probably get my hands on it.

      • Why would I want this functionality built into the lightbulb? Wouldn't it make more sense to build it into the fixture itself?
        • You are looking at it from a engineer's point of view. Look at it from a marketing department's point of view: to change a lightbulb you need no tools. Unscrew, screw, done. To change a fixture you need tools, and need to fiddle with wires and screws, and things that can go wrong.
          • Actually, I am looking at it from the consumer's point of view. If I wanted this technology, I would want to be able to configure it once and not HAVE to reconfigure it every time my light bulbs needed to be replaced (It's not that I might not reconfigure it more often, I just don't want to have to)..
          • by David_W (35680)

            To change a fixture you need tools, and need to fiddle with wires and screws, and things that can go wrong.

            Also add in the fact that 35% of people rent (in the US, according to these guys [nmhc.org]). Many of them may not be in a situation where they can reasonably change out the fixture, even if they possess the needed skills.

        • by drkim (1559875)

          Why would I want this functionality built into the lightbulb? Wouldn't it make more sense to build it into the fixture itself?

          Exactly. Like X-10:
          http://www.smarthomediscounts.... [smarthomediscounts.com]

      • by evilviper (135110)

        The major advantage I see of having lighting controlled is to allow automatic management of such. Does a bare bone interface to turn on individual lights make sense? IMHO, NO. But with the right software and hardware managing lighting and other devices in a home is an essential step to reduce the bill.

        That's nonsense... Motion-sensors and power-on timers have been around for a long time, they cost far, FAR less than these expensive bulbs, they don't need a computer program written and running around the cl

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      With the advent of LED light bulbs, I don't know why things haven't been made more modular. They could easily make individual LEDs (or small groups of them) within the bulb replaceable, and allow the AC/DC converter, as well as any other circuitry replaceable without requiring that the entire bulb be replaced every time a single component dies.
      • With the advent of LED light bulbs, I don't know why things haven't been made more modular. They could easily make individual LEDs (or small groups of them) within the bulb replaceable, and allow the AC/DC converter, as well as any other circuitry replaceable without requiring that the entire bulb be replaced every time a single component dies.

        Devil's Advocate:
        Yea, but then you could actually fix the thing (with parts you bought from someone else), instead of dropping another $X on a brand new unit. Where's the marketability of that?

    • Sadly, most of these smart bulbs have failed (despite all their whiz bang feature set) to offer a solution to the problem.

      PROBLEM: You put your child to bed, and as soon as you leave they turn the light back on.

      SOLUTION: Offer a smart bulb I can turn off or disable remotely, even better yet, set a timer.

      PROBLEM: Most of these smart bulbs come on when you turn on the switch. That's the exact opposite of what I want. I want the bulb to be de-activated from when I set it to say 7am. So that my kids cannot turn

      • by Russ1642 (1087959)

        Ha ha. You suck at parenting. Bring forth some real consequences, not just threatened ones, for turning on the light and watch that light stay off.

        • Let me guess: You're not a parent. The best parents are always the ones without children. After they have kids, they realize that their perfect ideas don't work on actual children.

          Either that, or you've been blessed with an angel of a child. It happens, but it's far from guaranteed.

          • by mythosaz (572040)

            I'm with Russ1642 here.

            There's a very simple path to take with disobedient children: Teach them early that actions have consequences.

            ....or end up with "affluenza".

            • by swillden (191260)

              There's a very simple path to take with disobedient children

              I see you're also not a parent. Not that parents shouldn't teach their children, but there's nothing simple at all about it. Each child is different and needs to be understood and taught appropriately. Parenting is the most difficult thing you'll ever do. Unless you luck out and get an angel, as the GP says... which does happen from time to time, but luck is what it is.

      • Remove the bulb.

    • by az1324 (458137)

      Dimming/hueing individual bulbs may be a luxury but there are situations when it comes in handy (leave one overhead light on for reading, leave lights at the back of the room dimmed for movies, light only every other bulb in a long hallway). The costs of a smart (white) bulb will fall to within a few dollars of a standard LED bulb. The additional complexity & components will improve the overall build quality of the bulb. There are lots of problems with cheap LED bulbs now, especially dimmable ones (f

    • by LF11 (18760)
      Frankly, I want a pretty decent collection of these bulbs for security purposes. I want the lighting in the house to show evidence of activity regardless of whether people are present. The current solution -- using cheap wall timers -- is fraught with mechanical problems, clock synchronization issues, and general dysfunction. Centralized digital control may be more expensive but will be a lot more reliable.
    • by jshazen (233469)

      There are studies showing declining sleep quality with blue light after sunset. I want my lights to cycle into the ambers and reds after dark, but to be bright and white in the middle of the day (the same way my computer does with f.lux). For now, I get around by wearing dorky orange safety glasses after 9pm, but would prefer my home not expose me to the blue parts of the spectrum. I'm still not sure HUE is the solution, because the wall switches are useless. But it at least gives me the possibility of

    • Yes, this adds a lot of complex control circuitry to your lightbulb - a microcontroller ($0.50 will get you 8-bit and 16-bit CPUs, and there are probably ARM CPUs for under $1 by now), and some kind of radio or sound or light sensor for signalling (also no more than a few bucks), and a 1/N share of the cost of the remote control (which only needs to cost more than $5 because a $200 home automation system needs a fancy GUI and lots of user interface development.)

      I might very well want to set different light

  • Billions of electronic bits gave their lives to produce this article. It's sad really since we'll never see their likes again.

  • As one-way as X10 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @01:21PM (#46632085) Homepage

    When you shut off a lamp manually, Hue may not know what state the light is in. Turn it off with the Tap, and it knows the lights are off.

    They've replicated the one-way communication of X10, then. That seems rather lame.

    Meanwhile, Cree's nice LED replacements for 60W incandescent bulbs are now below $10 at Home Depot. 10 year warranty. They draw 9 watts. Dimmable with existing external dimmers. Just buy a case of those and replace anything that burns out with one.

    • by sjbe (173966)

      Just buy a case of those and replace anything that burns out with one.

      If you're going to go ahead and buy them then you might as well replace the old inefficient bulb. Otherwise you're just wasting power since the LED bulb is a sunk cost at that point.

    • Is 60 watts the new 100 watts or something? 60 is too dim. Is anyone making 100 watt equivalents or is bright light now a victim of the green movement?

      • by sconeu (64226)

        From what I've seen, most manufacturers are using high-efficency halogens as the replacement for 100W.

      • Switch and Cree make 100 watt bulbs. BUT, they are far more expensive ($20-30). With a $5 cree 65 watt light bulb, there are plenty of places for one to put these in and have them pay off within 6 months. Even the $9 BR-30s are paying for themselves within 1 year in most places.

        Or you can do mixes. For example, I use a single 60 w incadescent in my bathroom mirror that needs 3 bulbs. The other 2 are the crees. As such, I burn up 80 watts instead of 180, and the light is more than good enough. And yes, you
    • I like the Cree bulbs. I just wish they (or any other) were as good as the Philips L-Prize bulbs (93 CRI and 93 Lumens/W)

      For comparison:
      Cree TW series: 93CRI and 59 Lumens/W
      Cree regular: 80CRI and 84 Lumens/W
      Philips: 81CRI and 72 Lumens/W

    • by az1324 (458137)

      If you cut the power to a bulb, it's obviously not going to know what you are doing with the app. The tap allows you to never cut power to the bulb. Yes the tap itself is one way but it is only intended to toggle on/off and select a few presets. It does not interfere with the two-way nature of the rest of the system including the bridge, apps, api clients, etc...

    • Actually, the cree's 60W soft white A19 -at your local home depots are $5.
      The cree 65 BW BR-30 soft white can light are 10.
      Cree is also offering a number of other bulbs, but, they are in the high teens range.
      Regardless, at 5/bulb, with 9 watts, it will pay for itself at just about every single regular bulb that you replace (save maybe ones in a crawlspace) within 6 months to 2 years.
      • by hazydave (96747)

        The Cree 40W equivalent bulbs are $5. Cree has a special deal with Home Depot. They're great LED bubs, too. Cree is actually the semiconductor company, an early leader in GaN transistors and the related high power white LEDs. They barely get warm, a big improvement over earlier LED bulbs. Most of my fairly lar G e house is LED lit now. In the past four years, I've had one bulb die, an infant mortality.

        And now they want me to replace these with wifi or zigbee bulbs? Maybe in ten years, once they work out so

    • by Trogre (513942)

      The current cheap chinese-made LED lights are amazingly efficient and put out a very good light, but suffer from capacitor plague.

      The bathtub failure curve for these is rather steep; I have purchased not fewer than fourteen LED lights to replace halogens in a kitchen installation and had half fail within two weeks. A couple of those exploded when first switched on. The remaining ones have been going solidly for more than a year now.

      Upon inspection, there is always a large electrolytic capacitor that has f

  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @01:29PM (#46632149)

    But which company will win the battle to illuminate the connected home?"

    They all will lose as competing standards will decrease adoption. In the end there will probably be a standard that is not backward compatible and early adopters will have to buy new equipment. Maybe all companies win after all.

  • But the job of the socket or outlet? I'd prefer to see some sort of USB/bluetooth-esque standard where the plugged-in device, be it a bulb in a socket, a lamp in a wall outlet, or a toaster oven could all be monitored and controlled through the same interface. A device would not even have to comply to the standard for this to be useful. We'd already be able to tell if it is on or off, and chart out power consumption. Devices in compliance could extend the functionality in the same way any number of USB

    • by Chrontius (654879)
      Protip: Go look up ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Insteon.

      The technology is out there, but it's a lot uglier than X-10 for DIYing. This was the first control system [amzn.to] I found that offers your sort of power management, and claimed universal, vendor-agnostic compatibility.
  • by PortHaven (242123) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @01:58PM (#46632427) Homepage

    Ability to turn off light remotely, and have it stay off!!!!

    With this feature I'll buy a $50 lightbulb, without out it - I'm not buying.

    Why? Because as any parent knows. As soon as you put your kid to bed, the first thing they do is wait to hear your steps depart, get up, and turn on their light. Above functionality would allow parents to turn off the light. And keep it off for set time.

    Presently, all these smart bulbs have a bunch of features, but if you turn them on at the switch...they come on. We need a feature to prevent that for parents the world over.

    • by pubwvj (1045960)

      There is another solution. We don't worry about it. In the morning everyone gets up early. If you stayed up late reading or something you still get up early in the morning for chores and breakfast. We also have rules of respect. Being quiet in the evening is one of those rules because other people are sleeping so they can get up in the morning to work. If kids are raised this way it rather solves the issue.

      Back to the smart bulbs - too much technology. Wasteful. Expensive.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Ww, you solved the problem for everyone, becaqsue no one has a child with asleep disorder!
        Thanks for you one size fits all. I'm amazed the world functioned at all before you started spitting pearls.

        And then you solve that light issue with a simple statement with not argument.
        Wow.

      • by evilviper (135110)

        In the morning everyone gets up early. If you stayed up late reading or something you still get up early in the morning

        Teenagers are biologically wired to stay up late and sleep-in late. Forcing them to wake-up very early is tantamount to forcing everyone else to switch to 3rd shift, waking everyone up at 10pm, no matter how much sleep they did or didn't get.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      You see your key feature in some old houses - light switch outside the door and the door only lockable from the outside.
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @02:14PM (#46632617)

    So now I've got a bulb that when i turn it off at the switch it stops drawing electricity, they want lightbulbs all over my house that are not off but in "standby" mode. Sucking on power throughout the day...

    I remember when lightbulbs were not $15 but $.50.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      HUE bulbs are $75 each. I think you need up update your pricing information.

      • Argh...

        Now the bulbs are more expensive than the lamp....

        I couldn't imagine outfitting a chandelier with $300 worth of bulbs...

        • by hey! (33014)

          Only if you're silly enough to buy smart bulbs for a chandelier. Practical LED bulbs these days cost about 4.5x as much up front, cost 1/4 as much to run, and last 10x longer. And within the available power ratings they're a plug-and-play replacement for incandescents, offering similar color temperatures and operating with dimmer circuits designed for incandescents.

          A "smart" bulb is not particularly compelling for a consumer, but I can see why it's attractive for a manufacturer to offer. I've seen this kin

    • You can now buy Cree light bulbs from your local home depot for $5.00 (9 for a can light).
      And if clarity is your thing, then they have a new line that matches the GE reveal for color, but it IS expensive ($19).
  • HUE bulbs are 30 watt equivalent brightness. they need to get to the 60 watt world before they are useable.
    Also they are ungodly expensive for what they are, and from a friends failure rate, I know why, you are paying for a warranty that will be used. he is having a 30% failure rate on the bulbs.

  • by almeida (98786)

    Hue bulbs speak ZigBee, not Wi-Fi. Communication between the bridge and the lights is done with a mix of the ZigBee Home Automation and ZigBee Light Link application profiles on a ZigBee PRO mesh network using an IEEE 802.15.4 MAC layer. The bridge is an IP-to-ZigBee gateway, but there's no direct IP connectively to the bulbs.

  • by Chrontius (654879) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @04:07PM (#46634027)
    I just loaded a half dozen /. stories in tabs, and now as many computer voices are reading submission summaries to me in some godawful cacophony.

    What the hell?

    Worse than beta, since there's no off switch.
  • Far better to simply start buying the $5 cree 60 w/$9 Br-30 65 w light bulbs from Home Depot and saving yourself some money.
    In fact, with these being 1/6 of the watt of an incadescent (and 1/3 of a flourescent), along with a minimum 10 year guarentee, you would be better off jumping to these and allowing them to run a little bit longer.
    With these ones other bulbs, it will be a waste of energy.
  • There's been a lot of research work on gigabit optical networking using LED lights yet we are calling this update of 1950s sensor light systems "smart".

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