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back to article New Bluetooth tech lets you control 4 BILLION lightbulbs at once

Are you in charge of 4.1 billion lightbulbs? Do you need to control each one of them individually? Yes? Then get your hands on the latest development from Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR). The CSR mesh protocol uses Bluetooth low energy with device-to-device communications to allow one bulb to speak to the next. The technology is …

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So, in theory, one can park outside someone else's place in another country, and flash your lights at will, from the comfort of their own car seat.

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Anonymous Coward

It does make for something of a wild party if you can use whole houses as disco lights, though.

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will this create inner city dogging, no park required?

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Stuff this..

I have a switch on the wall. All I want at present is a way to replace existing 78mm 80/100W halogen bulbs with an equivalent LED...

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Re: Stuff this..

Have you not heard of the secret mandate: no new technology in a house can directly replace the old one. Bulbs grow slightly over time so all your downlighters have to be replaced with slightly larger ones that wont fit up against the beams.... Dimmer switches are redesigned so what looks like a drop-in replacement actually needs a new mains cable fitting to the spur and the recessed box replacing to get the wires 'round the back to where they are needed.

Its probably very easy to make an LED replacement for any bulb in your house but some-one somewhere will have made one and got copyright on it so you will have to replace the bulb holders and in some cases the whole wall the light was attached to.

Millions has gone into research to ensure that the boards the LED's are fitted to will fail after 2 years and a day and the whole supply chain modified to ensure that the new replacement will have a light temperature sufficiently different from the incumbents to piss you off.

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Angel

Re: Stuff this..

All I want at present is a way to replace existing 78mm 80/100W halogen bulbs with an equivalent LED

Yeah, the size equivalents are available1, but the brightest that I see from my supplier are 60W equivalents (heat build-up is definitely the enemy here).

Having said that, you may want to try to swap out one of your halogens with an LED anyway, just for the sake of comparison. I've found that halogens are not always as bright as claimed, and sometimes the bulb is brighter than necessary for the room or hallway anyway.

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1. Assuming a reflector type, the North American equivalent would be a PAR20, with half an inch to spare.

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Re: Stuff this..

Thanks, John, but not what I'm after - the existing holders have a linear halogen R7s bulb which illuminates a shaped translucent glass (downwards) and the ceiling and wall (upwards). I'd like to keep the holders and drop something in, but I haven't been able to find anything. I'll even settle for rebuilding the back of the damn things...

Most 'lights' these days seem to be decorative features, not something to have if you want to do something like, say, reading. I want a room full of light, not tiddly spots, but I don't want to pay a couple of hundred quid a unit to do it.

<edit> Just tried a search by r7s and turned up this: http://www.simplelighting.co.uk/product_images/i/536/142754.99956c2735774f65c9bc31e62547dd7c390__79137_std.jpg which may not fit the slot but is worth investigating...

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Re: no new technology in a house can directly replace the old one

Agree.

Because everything is now "digitally enhanced" and "Web Enabled" and therefore subject to IT-derived ideas about what need replacing when and with what.

Switch + volts + filament = light.

Digital Power Bus Routing Selector Module + Digital Variac Module Output + Gallium Arsenide Fitted Digital Support And Control Electronics For Domestic Illumination Module = remodeling project, endless requests to wait pending driver upgrade and pwnership by Chechnyans (who are likely in a different time zone even if they allow you to light your house), annoying high-frequency buzzing and light of exactly the wrong shade to be either restful or conducive to the reduction of eye-strain induced headaches.

Don't let IT nerds design things for real people. They are no good at it.

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Re: Stuff this..

Ah, interesting (I've never seen a bulb like that before, thanks). All I can say then is good luck -- it took manufacturers here years to get around to making the PAR16 equivalents that I needed, but they finally did, so presumably something similar will happen with your R7s.

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Re: Stuff this..

I have some 50W MR11 halogens which produce 680 lumens. The brightest LEDs I can find produce about half the number of lumens.

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Re: Stuff this..

you could look here. http://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?SearchText=R7+led&catId=0&initiative_id=SB_20140710125304

I built a house an ended up buying 100 GU10 LEDs for £200 when I needed 70, I have had about 5 fail already, but cheaper than paying £10 a bulb in the UK. Mine where claimed to be 6W one but in they consume 3W to 4W, but I am happy with the light output of them.

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Anonymous Coward

Why?

Why would I want this? sounds more like a solution waiting for a problem to me.

LED Lights are supposed to last... well forever so what happens when the battery fails? Does the light suddenly BSOD (viz go dark)?

sorry, a POLS is good enough for me. (Plain old light switch).

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TRT
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Re: Why?

Well there will not enough address space for some Christmas decorations for a start, if the race for the world record continues.

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Re: Why?

"LED Lights are supposed to last... well forever"

They don't. The LEDs themselves might but the cheap, rubbish, built in supplies last no longer than the average tungsten bulb in my humble experience. I won't be buying any more LED lamps until the power supplies improve. I'd like to see trading standards prosecuting a few suppliers for supplying LED lamps that don't last for the claimed 60 years, or even 1 year. How they can get away with it is outrageous. They are so careful to say the LEDs (which the average person will take to mean the whole lamp) will last a lifetime while no mention of the power supplies. The should be made to state the the expected lifetime of the whole unit including both.

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Re: Why?

"LED Lights are supposed to last... well forever "

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAaaaaaarrrrrrrghlegaspchoke! *dies of asphyxiation*

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Boffin

Re: Why?

LED Lights are supposed to last... well forever...

An LED (and the bulbs made from them) will age over time, getting dimmer. Last I checked, a bulb was officially (U.S.) considered "dead" when it dropped to 70% of its initial illumination.

So far the outdoor lights, which are on continuously at night, are still doing fine, but they've only been in operation for two years so far. I think I can realistically expect another three years out of them, but we'll see.

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Re: considered "dead" when it dropped to 70% of its initial illumination

Can't count the number of red traffic lights near my house with more than half the LEDs burned out, nor do any of the busses I've clocked in the last few weeks have a full matrix or redduns in the taillights that "last forever".

The Jeep that passed me the other day had a full bar of them so bright the fucktard behind the wheel had turned off his headlights (by which other people would have been able to judge the width of his car despite the dazzle coming from the bar of brightness mounted low and central - which conveyed a much smaller frontal area).

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I dont kwow why

In this technological age someone hasn't come up with a simple wall mounted wireless remote switch unit to replace the present hardwired installation of having to hack a wire down into a plaster clad wall just to switch the lights on and off.

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Re: I dont kwow why

There are lots of wireless light switches using either RF or IR, I have one from HomeEasy which works fine but is a proprietary protocol. Sounds like this technology could be applied to light switches as well as light bulbs.

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Re: I dont kwow why

There is already - "Home Easy" (http://www.homeeasy.eu/) and it is a wireless remote control switch (battery powered) and a wireless receiver in the ceiling light fitting. You could zone areas of the home as well.

Wasn't too expensive either.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I dont kwow why

They are already available. Here's one flavour.

http://www.wirelesslightingstore.com/home-easy-wire-free-light-switches.html

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Re: I dont kwow why

[4 Arachnoid] X10 technology has been around in easy-to-consume form for a couple of decades, and at one time X10 modules, remotes, receivers and switches could be purchased from any Radio Shack quite inexpensively. I used the plug-in version for years, until the remotes wore out.

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Re: I dont kwow why

They have, but most people find it easier to locate a light switch that is always on the same place on their wall than it is to locate a remote control, especially if it is dark.

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Re: I dont kwow why

"They have, but most people find it easier to locate a light switch that is always on the same place on their wall than it is to locate a remote control, especially if it is dark"

Which is why the range included wall switches. Still does, but you have to source them from somewhere else now (the Radio Shack range was just rebranded stuff you could always get elsewhere).

There's this thing called "google" ...

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Surely there must be a way to get the physical action of flipping the switch to power it? Or maybe it could be coated in some kind of novel solar panel (low efficiency I know but it doesn’t need to be that great) hooked up to a capacitor that can hold a charge overnight.

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How many Kiwis does it take

I don't know if they plan to use Bluetooth but building energy management has huge potential.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/07/kiwi-power-cuts-usage-high-demand-help-uk-energy-crisis

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... "in a move that will please the green lobby, the switch can be run off a battery that, according to CSR, will last for up to six years"

These statements are dumb. If it takes six years to flatten a battery. How much mains power could it possibly use. Plus you don't have the environmental impact of battery disposal.

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the problem is that there isn't a good solution for low energy conversion of mains to low voltage without waste. Putting a battery in the solution reduces the bill of materials, complexity and energy consumption. You might need to replace a battery in 5+ years but that will cost you less than the energy usage from a mains converter.

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Solar panel -> 12v Battery -> 12v bus

Works fine for caravans and boats. Only need a backup charger in case of emergencies like 6 weeks of rain. Or an English summer.

Next time I wire our house there will be some kind of 12v and balanced serial bus cabling installed so lighting, sensors and switching need no batteries or wireless between themselves, and the MCP can live on a computer in the house with no access to the internet.

Could even have a 12v fridge freezer so the smart meter brigade can't turn it off :)

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control 4 billion

or not be able to identify the one you wish to control?

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Re: control 4 billion

"I felt a great disturbance in the force, as if billions of lightbulbs cried out in terror, and were suddenly darkened"

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Anonymous Coward

Shurely "BEEEELLION"?

...or has El Reg finally tired of that particular meme, only a few years after the rest of us?

(And yes, I know "shurely" is a well-worn meme in its own right... eh, 'Private Eye'? ;-) )

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Anonymous Coward

There is no Bluetooth pairing as the system uses the advertising channel.

.. thus ensuring that that advertising channel stays live to pick up all that new, lovely local marketing you have been breathlessly waiting for ..

No thank you, I rather like my technology paired, even if it is sometimes a pain in the proverbial. I like to hang on to that little bit of control I have left.

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WTF?

And if I understand correctly, no security at all.

The design appears to be that each lamp has a permanently-set "address" that's used to send commands to it. The QR code encodes this, much like the barcodes on some DALI fittings that contain their serial numbers.

The lamp doesn't have any way to verify that the sender of the command is authorised, so you can sit outside somebody's house sending commands to every possible address until you find the ones that are active.

On the bright side, it does appear that after spending a little while identifying them, you can play Tetris on the side of a block of flats without needing to bother the owners.

Apart from the whole "changing their lighting at random" bit, anyway.

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Boffin

The QR code/UUID is only used during installation

The QR code/UUID is only used during installation. After that the device has a 15-bit local ID, and a network key which was distributed securely during installation. Messages are signed and encrypted using that key. Up to 32k devices can share a network key and so interwork without additional bridging or gateway sorts of things.

So you can't control your neighbour's lights.

The QR code is used to handle the race condition when you and your neighbour are both installing a new light bulb at the same time - to keep you from accidentally acquiring control of each other's. And so you can tell which of your several exciting new devices is which as you give them IDs and set them up.

Group IDs are also 15-bit; each device can also belong to multiple groups and so respond to commands addressed to eg. "all kitchen lights" "all lights" "downstairs" &c &c. So long as they share the same network key.

The reportage about 64k groups each containing 64k devices, making 4bn, is, um, confused. With separate network keys, there can be billions of distinct mesh networks worldwide, each with up to 32k devices, without them interfering with one another.

Aside: the "advertising channels" name has nothing to do with pushing marketing messages, though many companies are looking at doing indoor location/proximity via BLE ads, and then layering push messaging on top of that using a separate server connection made by the supermarket-loyalty-card-app or equivalent.

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Re: The QR code/UUID is only used during installation

Though 15 bits for DeviceID and 15 for GroupID is just a convention - you could potentially have 63k devices and 2k groups, for example. Point is the IDs live in the same 16-bit space.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The QR code/UUID is only used during installation

@hugo, thanks for the detail - hadn't found the time to read up on it :)

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Re: The QR code/UUID is only used during installation

@Hugo Thanks.

Where is this published? I could not find any of these details at all.

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Re: The QR code/UUID is only used during installation

I saw an article named "CSRmesh non-NDA presentation" somewhere whose content matched what the Reg was talking about, so I guess they were given that. I don't know if it's generally available, looks like not.

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Ah, the wonder...

of someone hacking in and 4.1 billion leds across the world simultaneously flashing "Buy cheap Viagra at http://whatever.com" in morse code.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ah, the wonder...

- who knows Morse Code these days? Very few I think.

How about all those senitive to flashing lights - mass fits?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ah, the wonder...

> who knows Morse Code these days? Very few I think.

would you believe it, this week one of our kids came home with Morse Code homework? Must be the new drive for IT in schools...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ah, the wonder...

would you believe it, this week one of our kids came home with Morse Code homework? Must be the new drive for IT in schools...

Planning ahead for when the next parish priest locks them up in his basement?

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Battery switch !

. "in a move that will please the green lobby, the switch can be run off a battery that, according to CSR, will last for up to six years"

Would it not be better to rewire the house lighting ring for 12V

1 transformer at the fuse box !

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Battery switch !

12V ?

Don't forget Ohms Law.

You will need very thick cable.

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Bah!

New World Order clever light bulbs, meet ... the Long Island Power Grid!

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Happy

Samsung

No doubt samsung will add eye tracking bloatware to turn the lights off while you blink...

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So

So the lights are going off all across Europe. This time, HACKED.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/features/uk-turn-lights-next-month-3834559

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