Lighting Smart Home

Want to add smarts to light switches without replacing? Switchmate has them covered

editors-choiceControlling home lighting via a smartphone app can come in handy. But all too often setting up such systems can be overly complicated.

Switchmate does away with all of that complexity. It consists of a white cover that easily snaps over a standard light switch using magnets. It gets paired via Bluetooth with an Android or iOS app and the user can then easily take control of the switch via their smartphone. In a nice touch, the app can control multiple Switchmates. Notably, users can see the status of their lights within a Bluetooth range of about 150 feet. Each Switchmate will cost $60 and is scheduled to begin shipping in December. Its maker set an Indiegogo campaign goal of raising $50,000 by April 1.

Switchmate holds a great deal of promise if truly is compatible with any standard light switch and if the setup process is as easy as the campaign advertises. The device takes the ease of Emberlight one step further insofar as it attaches to a light switch instead of a light fixture itself, thereby eliminating the need to have a ladder or really tall person nearby.

Tech Accessories

ChatLight lets video chatters see each other in a better light

Skype, FaceTime, Oovoo, and other video chat systems have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Each allow a way for people far apart to have a face-to-face conversation. Of course, when talking to someone from afar, most want to look their best.

ChatLight offers a way for video chatters to look great. This bright light attaches to any smartphone, laptop or tablet because its length is adjustable. The light itself is versatile too, allowing the user to either set it on high or low. It charges via a USB cable and only needs 15 minutes for a full charge. ChatLight rotates too, so that it’s always in the right spot.

This product is a neat little invention, great for anyone who likes to video chat a lot. The brightness is an especially nice feature for new college students who may have to talk in the dark due to sleeping roommates. There’s no mention on how hot the light gets, however, something the creators may want to detail in their campaign. One ChatLight goes for $20 with delivery in June 2015. This product is looking for $50,000 in funding on Kickstarter with a campaign end date of March 28.

Connected Objects Lighting

Playbulb garden lights up your garden, saves you some green

Outdoor garden lighting tends to be pretty routine, offering little in the way of color. Few outdoor bulbs can also be deemed to be green, as in environmentally friendly, because they require the same electricity that indoor lights use.

However, the latest Playbulb LED lighting product -– the water-resistant Playbulb garden –- adds multiple colors, special lighting effects and smart functionality, and is driven purely by solar power. Each light is controlled via Bluetooth 4.0 by the accompanying free Playbulb X app for Android and iOS mobile devices. Users can change each light’s color with the app and also select from rainbow, fading, pulsing, flashing and candle light effects.

The built-in sensor detects lighting conditions and automatically turns on or off accordingly. The included monopod/spike allows more flexibility for installation. Once attached to the bottom of a Playbulb garden light, it’s easy to push into the grass to make the bulb secure. The monopod can also be removed if the user just wants to place the light directly on the ground. Each Playbulb garden costs $29.99 and will ship in May. Its maker set a goal of raising $10,000 by March 27.

Playbulb garden follows the Playbulb color and Playbulb rainbow, and will likely appeal to many homeowners with gardens. Other good features include its ability to run up to 20 hours on a full charge. One drawback is that its light might not be bright enough for some consumers. Customers shouldn’t expect to be able to use one to read a book outside at night. The product is featured in a recent Backerjack podcast.



Solo Tester zaps potential electrical wiring problems

The hassle and expense that comes with calling an electrician to resolve home electrical problems can be enough to make a person want to go back to using old fashioned oil lamps.

The makers of Solo Tester tout their product as simple enough for the average homeowner, but quality enough for a professional electrician. They designed the testing device is to test low to medium-range voltage electrical wiring, and it can help resolve power function and circuitry problems. A long-range audible signal allows the user to remain at the problem area and test for the problem at the source at the same time.

It’s a useful product for those who are handy where home repairs are concerned. Backers with do-it-yourself skills might also like to check out CaulkKnocker, T-Rex and Gatr. This campaign seeks to raise $25,000 by March 26, 2015. For $75, backers get one product with an expected delivery of April 2015.

Lighting Music

BROOGS Smart Lamp charges devices, plays music, and lights the way with portable lantern

The beauty of the new, connected world slowly being forged is the transformation of ordinary parts of the home that are taken for granted into dynamic, living devices that can be interacted with in so many new ways. With this in mind, BROOGS has taken the humble lamp and pumped it full of interesting ideas.

The BROOGS Smart Lamp is minimalist and elegant in every way. The use of touch controls on the slickly curved device itself eliminates the presence of protruding buttons, while the portable LED lantern docked within gently lights surroundings. USB ports on its side allow users to charge their devices, and hiding within is a Bluetooth speaker that can interface with an iOS or Android device to stream music. It doesn’t only use the Bluetooth connection for sound, but also to push notification alerts from a device to the lamp, expressing them with the more than 16 million colors and the limitless combinations they that the lamp can create. A white BROOGS Smart Lamp is now $150, which is $49 off what it will be priced for retail.

The BROOGS Smart Lamp is a sleek addition to any home. The quantity of color combinations is mind boggling, and those who like reading before bed will find the gentle light much more soothing the harsh light of a ceiling light or tablet screen. Other interesting takes on smart lamps include the LIVING Room Lamp and LumiSmart, the latter being almost an assistant in the way it recognizes a routine after some time. When compared to other offerings on the market, the BROOGS Smart Lamp has looks, but lacks other factors that could truly separate it from everything else.

The $50,000 campaign is looking to raise its funding by March 13, and expects to ship the product in May of this year.


Décor Flame might help you kindle the fires of romance

There are certain things that add just a touch of romance to getting together with that special someone. One thing in particular is a cozy spot in front of a flickering fireplace. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford a fireplace, which is where Décor Flame steps in as a possible substitute.

The small fire containment unit includes fire-resistant glass that appears to encase a base of one’s choice of either stainless steel with a wood-looking surface, or plain stainless steel. The fire itself runs on bio-fuel. Whether or not the gadget actually produces any heat is questionable, but it may serve as an interesting conversation starter. Though the product is touted as being portable, it’s not clear what its measurements are. Backers might also like to check out the Lampp, the Playbulb, and the Prizim.

This campaign seeks to raise $20,000 by March 17. Early bird backers get one product for $150, with an expected delivery in June of this year.


iCanWalk adds illuminated safety to nighttime strolls

Many people feel that letting their kids walk to school or a nearby store is much more dangerous today than it was even a generation ago. Distracted drivers on mobile devices and the slowing reflexes of an increasing elderly population can mean more fatalities, even when one stays within the cross walk.

iCanWalk is a small light shaped like a stop sign that helps to alert drivers when the user is crossing the street. It is touted as being small enough to fit in a pocket, functions with a battery that can be recharged via the built-in USB port, and blinks when turned on. The attached handle makes it easy to hold and extend out or up to help with visibility.

This product seems like it may be useful at dusk or night in low light areas where there is a lot of traffic, but other than that, iCanWalk seems a bit over-the-top. Interested backers might also want to check out LightCycle and AquaLight. This project seeks to raise $200,000 by early February. Backers get one product for $100 with an expected delivery of January 2016.


LIVING room lamp moves around at will, boasts presets and dimming power

Lighting can make a huge difference in any household. Great furniture and fixtures are lost when there’s not enough light to illuminate them.

Most households use lamps to provide that bit of extra light, but don’t move them once they’re in place. As we move around and use our rooms in different ways, light may have to move as well. That’s why the LIVING room lamp is a pivot lamp with integrated Bluetooth technology. It syncs up with any Android smartphone for complete control over the light’s position. Either move the light around at will or take advantage of the preset timed options available.

The light looks like a typical silver pivot light and reach up to six feet and ten inches. In addition to its height, it also boast a rotation of up to 120 degrees. There’s little information on how bright the light gets or what kind of lightbulb it calls for, but it is able to be dimmed. The creators hope that they’ll soon integrate iOS into the lamp as well.

As an added bonus, the LIVING room lamp is made up of modular parts which can be replaced easily if necessary. The creators of this product may want to consider adding some kind of detector that will prevent the light from smashing into walls if its preset demands it. This light is going for a donation of $850 (!) for delivery in November 2015. The LIVING room lamp is looking to raise $80,000 with the help of Kickstarter.


GloStep Truck Steps shed light on dark running boards

When forced to park one’s truck in a low light or no light setting, it can be painful to try to guess where to place one’s foot when entering or exiting – especially of one happens to be vertically challenged.

GloStep Truck Steps offers users the opportunity for a bit of light on those dark and perhaps stormy nights. There isn’t a great deal of information in regard to this product, and so the installation process, necessary tools for installation, and how the product works isn’t entirely clear. But backers looking for an easy way to have extra lighting at their fingertips may also want to check out the LureViewer or MuleLightOrb. Also, WakaWaka is a great emergency item to have in a truck or car.

This campaign seeks to raise $150,000. For $500, backers get one set of steps with an expected delivery of June 2015. Backers, however, may reserve their donation until they have a better idea of how the GloStep Truck Steps work.


Method Lights stick to the ceiling; illuminate your Picasso’s

Those who invest in an art collection know that the only way to display it is to use good lighting. Without the proper illumination, beautiful paintings and photographs can get lost on the wall.

Method Lights are one such way to light artwork. These lights feature control over dimming, temperature and timer. Best of all, these settings can be controlled with a  remote, making it easy to adjust from around the house. The battery runs for up to 200 hours. In addition, installation is easy, involving a peel and stick method to the ceiling. The product itself is white and features a single beam of light that goes as bright as 800 lumens.

The campaign calls this product the “perfect picture light”. While it’s certainly a good picture light, it doesn’t really stand out from other lights. Though its easy installation is a nice plus for those who don’t want to put holes in their walls. One goes for $125 for delivery in February, provided Method reaches its $2,000 Kickstarter goal.