Connected Objects Smart Home Technology

PLAYBULB rainbow light offers energy efficiency, color LED lighting

Consumers looking to save money on their electric bills represent one major audience for the new PLAYBULB rainbow LED light bulb from San Jose company MiPow USA. But the likely smaller base of consumers who want to add color lighting–red, blue, green and white–to their rooms represent another target audience for the product, which is from the same company that made the PLAYBULB color.

Each bulb offers 5 watts at full power with 280 lumens and an estimated 30,000 hours of lifetime performance. That compares to standard incandescent light bulbs that offer comparable lumens, but use up 40 watts of power and only work for a total of about 1,000 hours. A free PLAYBULB X app at the Apple App Store and Google Play can be used to set the timer for when the bulb turns on or off. Users can also select what color they want at any specific time from the color wheel on the app. Backers can get one bulb at $22 in February as part of a super early bird special. That’s $12.99 off the $34.99 retail price. The bulb’s creator set a Kickstarter funding goal of $10,000.

The bulb will likely appeal to many consumers. But it’s questionable whether the average consumer will want to pay more than $30 for one LED bulb, regardless of its energy efficiency, smart functionality and color choices.

Connected Objects Lighting

For Vocca light switches, your voice is a turn-on

The Premise. Sometimes the light switch is just too far away. Whether you’re cozy in bed, just getting in the door with your hands full of groceries or unable to easily get to the switch due to injury, flipping the switch can sometimes be a pain. 

The Product. Vocca is a voice-activated light switch. The small white device screws into any conventional light fixture. Once in, the lightbulb then screws into Vocca. By simply saying the phrase, “Vocca switch light,” the device turns the light on or off. Vocca Pro allows for customization and the user can program up to five trigger phrases for the light using an accompanying app. The product itself is white and very discreet. 

The Pitch. Watching the Vocca campaign video is like seeing a musical on Broadway. Sort of. The star bursts into song from the get go and sings robustly, and informatively, about Vocca explaining that normal light switches will still work and comparing other products. There’s some drama in there too and, like all classic narratives, a conflict about who’s getting up to switch off the light and a solution, Vocca. The rest of the campaign goes through the specs of Vocca and Vocca Pro, showing off its features to potential backers. This smart light switch product hopes to raise $40,000 in a two-month Kickstarter campaign. 

The Perks. For $29, backers will get the Vocca at a special early price. For later backers, $39 is enough to get the Vocca delivered by December 2014. The Vocca Pro goes for an early tier of $42 and regular tier of $49. 

The Potential. As the video points out, there are other smart light switches out there. As the video also points out, these come with limitations. Messing around with your phone isn’t really too much faster than hauling your butt up to turn off or on the light. While Vocca does feature the convenience of customization on your phone, including setting the lights to turn on when you want to wake up, it doesn’t rely solely upon that. For instance, Belkin’s WeMo LightSwitch lets you customize your lighting, but the phone is always needed to control it. If you lose your phone, you’re hosed. With Vocca, simply remembering the phrase is all you need to operate the device. All in all, people are very lazy and for that reason alone, there is definitely a place on the market for Vocca. 

Connected Objects Lighting Music

Whome sets the mood with lighting and streamed audio

The Premise.  The primary necessity for any home situation is adequate lighting. Plain light bulbs are so 20th century. Why not have customizable, smart light bulbs that can stream audio throughout the home?

The Product. Whome is a Wi-fi enabled system of LED light bulbs that can be controlled using a proprietary app. Designed for customization and sharing, each Whome supports 256 LED bulbs to fine-tune the color and intensity of the light to fit any room, mood, or social situation. Additionally, each bulb also comes with a built-in speaker, and audio can be streamed to the Whome to provide a whole-home output for party music or ambient backgrounds for relaxing in bed. The app allows users to set timers that will change the bulb’s settings for different times of day and allow easy management of all networked lights in the home, no matter which room.

The Pitch.  Whome is a trendy idea, and so Whome developer WaveBomb has framed its product as young and fashionable in its campaign video. Viewers get a glimpse of the product in action from friends watching a soccer match in proper team lighting to a suggestive bedroom encounter complete with mood lighting and appropriate soundtrack. The Whome’s ease of use in on full display, with simple examples of controlling the light in real-time through the app and connected the bulbs to streaming audio featured. With a goal of £20,000 in place, WaveBomb is hoping to raise the funds necessary to begin mass production and get all the necessary certifications.

The Perks. A single Whome is available for £60, set to launch October 2014. Those who want more than just black or white can get a two-pack in any color for £155. Additional tiers offer quantities of five or seven bulbs.

The Potential. Similar products have been introduced already, either taking the smart light bulb route or the music-powered light approach. Whome feels less like a novelty because it tackles both of these concepts in one device. The design makes the bulbs look a bit like ultra-modern salt and pepper shakers, but being able to stream audio and control lighting color and intensity using a phone and being able to program it to act as a much more pleasant form of morning alarm make this a very appealing product for those that have an easier time rising and shining to their favorite music.

Lighting Smart Home

AirBulb is the lightbulb that ears can enjoy

The Premise. In the 21st century, a lot of innovation and engineering has gone into making artificial light less energy-intensive, longer-lasting, and more natural to the health of the eye. But why do our lightbulbs only serve to illuminate the dark when they could be doing much more?

The Product. The AirBulb is a smart, Bluetooth LED lightbulb that syncs up to iOS and Android devices that has an internal speaker for enjoying music without any complicated wiring. AirBulb can be used in any standard lamp socket and can be controlled traditionally or through the AirBulb app. With the app, light warmth can be changed, and the bulb can be set to flash in conjunction with an alarm clock or as a notification of an incoming call.

The Pitch. Aptly named for a project such as this, Hong Kong’s Avantconcept shows off its vision that every home not only needs light, but also a means to enjoy music. The video goes over all the current features of the device, and the campaign pictures highlight the technical specifications of the product and break down the reward tiers simply. Avantconcept needs $100,000 to finish mass manufacturing and the AirBulb, and has also set a stretch goal at $150,000 at which point more features will be added including multiple brightness levels and notifications for social media, text messages, email, and low battery.

The Perks. A pledge of $59 gets backers one AirBulb to use in their home. Higher tiers can be used to order several at once, and all AirBulbs are expected to be delivered at the end of 2014.

The Potential. Overall, this feels like a neat tech idea but also like an abuse of technological power. While some might be attracted to AirBulb, others will struggle to find a reason why lightbulbs and speakers should be one in the same. Paying nearly $60 for a lightbulb will give some hesitation, while others will wonder just how much the acoustics of a lampshade will affect the enjoyment of their music. Chalk this up as a novelty for now, and don’t expect people to set up their homes to resemble The Exorcist when a call comes in, but maybe in just a few short years products like these will become the standard.