back to article Joining the illuminati? Just how bright can a smart bulb really be?

There's no getting away from it: talking about a smart light bulb is liable to subject you to immediate mockery. Oh really? It's smart enough to turn itself on and off? Anything else? No? Okay, I think I'll just keep using my fingers then. The image of someone pulling out their phone to turn on a lamp is ludicrous and here's …

  1. Mage Silver badge

    No

    Still pointless.

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: No

      Still pointless

      ...and expensive.

      At the moment the Internet of Tat seems to offer benefits that range from "none" through the whole gamut of insignificance up to an including "negligible", whilst still costing a ridiculous amount.

      1. Bluto Nash

        Re: No

        +1 for "Internet of Tat."

        1. Charles Manning

          Not pointless

          It makes money out of dumbshits. No more pointless than a Rolex.

          As for Smart..... It only has to be smarter than the buyer. ie. not very smart. Not very bright either. 4W of LED should do nicely.

          1. Turtle

            @Charles Manning Re: Not pointless

            "It makes money out of dumbshits. No more pointless than a Rolex."

            From the buyer's perspective, showing off the fact that you have $200 to waste on light-bulbs is one thing, but showing off the fact that you have $10,000 to waste on a wristwatch is in another league entirely.

          2. Emmeran

            Re: Not pointless

            "No more pointless than a Rolex"

            I don't know, "My dad left me a light bulb" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

            1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

              Not that I could afford one...

              but with a Rolex you'll have a precise watch that will work for decades and still be worth quite a bit (if not even more) - try this with anything vaguely IT-related...

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: Not that I could afford one...

                And between £200 and £400 shelled out every 3 years just to keep the thing serviced to manufacturers recommendation.

          3. icetrout

            Re: Not pointless

            GoodBang has clones for $!.00 & free shipping... lol :)

      2. Fazal Majid

        You're overstating the benefits

        When you factor in the costs of privacy infringement and insecurity, the ledger is firmly in negative territory.

    2. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: No

      The best thing is the "light off after 10 seconds" but that essentially means you put the switch in the wrong place. You might be able to move it for less than $200 plus a monthly subscription....

      I'm sure you could also easily get a delayed switch. That can't be too hard to do.

      I'm wondering if the problem is not the tech. Is the tech actually quite cheap, but the problem is that its almost impossible to make a living selling it? Small demand -> high prices.

      Which brings us back to the original point, or identified lack of it.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: No

        Well, in our (certainly far from special) home:

        10 second fadeout - all our light switches, tap once to fade on/off, twice for immediate on/off, hold to manually dim, same for the remotes.

        Porch light - comes on when it detects movement, stays on 30 seconds after movementhas stopped.

        Garage lights - come on when the door rolls up. Admittedly, there's a transponder in each car which opens the door as you approach, but hey, if you heve to open a double roller door manually once, you never want to do it again!

        Smokealarms - built in lights which come on when the alarm sounds, one at each end of the house and one in the middle.

        Doorbell - bloody loud, intercom screen turns on to ahow you who's there

        And all of this with technology built into the house in 2004, probably at a cost no higher than the $1,000 or so it would cost to put a 'smart' light bulb in every room, and not an internet connection to be seen.

      3. david 12 Bronze badge

        Re: No

        You can also get simple delay lightbulbs, that turn off slowly. Perfect for getting from my door switch, across the large cluttered room, to my bed. Or would have been, if they hadn't each died with a couple of weeks.

        Much cheaper than this, no installation problems in the rental. If they had worked.

  2. Andy Non
    Meh

    Burglar deterent?

    @ $200 any self respecting burglar will just nick the bulbs too.

    1. Drs. Security

      Re: Burglar deterent?

      that would mean A) the burglar knows you have these lights and B) he dares to go in even though there are lights on as well and C) he knows enough of bluetooth or wireless technology that he has the tools to detect the bluetooth signals from the bulbs.

      That is if they do transmit a signal when in idle mode at all instead of just listening for your phone to connect to them which would from a security point of view be smarter.

      1. Old Handle

        Re: Burglar deterent?

        They would have to know about these bulbs, but what if you've put one on the front porch so they can see it directly? They look very distinctive.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Burglar deterent?

          the bulbs are distinctive, and any self-respecting burgler should keep on top of developing technologies to factor it in (and pocket the bulbs :)

    2. PNGuinn Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Burglar deterent?

      No.

      As a professional, and having full access to the Internet of Tat, he'll ahve turned all the lights on as he arrived at the house to make his work easier. If he's a decent sort of chap he'll turn them all off again as he leaves to save your leccy bill.

      In his own house he'll stick to the simple cheap reliable self contained devices already on the market. For security, you know.

    3. Charles Manning

      Burglar attractant surely

      If someone has $200 to piss away on "smart lightbulbs", then they probably have some cool stuff worth nicking.

      For the same reason, you want to go burgle the house with the new Audi, not the 20 year old Toyota station wagon.

      1. Magnus_Pym

        Re: Burglar attractant surely

        Burglary and housebreaking are not usually considered high IQ professions though.

  3. stucs201

    Even if you want this...

    ...I still don't see a single feature which wouldn't be better if it was part of a smart switch or fitting which used ordinary bulbs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Even if you want this...

      And you stand a better chance of getting enough light to see with over a wide area.

    2. Charles Manning

      .re: Even if you want this...

      The killer feature... being smug with your Internet Of Twat mates.

      It's really no more stupid than $150/metre gold speaker cables with $4000 speakers on the ends. The sound isn't any better than speakers and wire a tenth of that price.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: .re: Even if you want this...

        @Charles Manning - It's really no more stupid than $150/metre gold speaker cables with $4000 speakers on the ends. The sound isn't any better than speakers and wire a tenth of that price.

        That really depends on how much you've spent on the acoustics of the room (well, it does for the speakers, if not the cable)

  4. graeme leggett Silver badge

    cart before horse

    Rather than put the 'cleverness' into the bulb, why not put it into the wall switch?

    Then you can use whatever LED bulbs fit the sockets in whatever light fittings you have.

    1. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: cart before horse

      I should have added, because it ought to be easier to get permanent power to a seldom used switch than to a seldom used bulb.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: cart before horse

        >it ought to be easier to get permanent power to a seldom used switch than to a seldom used bulb

        Unfortunately, at least in the UK, permanent power is normally available only at the ceiling fitting - only one side of the supply goes to the switch from where it is routed back to the primary load (lamp). The traditional way "smart" switches would deal with this would be to constantly leak some current, enough to generate a potential difference across a series secondary load in the switch, just not enough to make the bulb light up.

        You'd be better off with a smart ceiling rose than a smart switch.

        1. graeme leggett Silver badge

          Re: cart before horse

          "smart ceiling rose" You are right that would be a better idea for a lot of places.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: cart before horse

            We've been selling those for years - cheaper than these lamps and last much longer as well.

            Including genuinely wireless and batteryless light switches to control them - yes, you can buy a stickyback light switch.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: cart before horse

        The "seldom used" part is easy - leave the things switched on permanently and control them via the app.

        If you must have physical switches, then just have wall-mounted control modules and permanently link out the switch in the wallbox. (X10 has been doing that for 30 years)

        The dead loss in this instance is that LED bulbs are really only for replacing lamps in traditional fittings which can't be (economically) replaced. Bear in mind that the shape and connector are for a device which traditionally required replacment every 1000 operating hours, or 1500 switch-on cycles (The light bulb cartel really did exist, look it up)

        At $75 apiece you may as well have a permanently fitted device with a much nicer form factor than that of a light bulb (and a lot more light output, plus more room for the whizzy bits). These are a solution looking for the wrong problem.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: cart before horse

      And all the switch needs is a way to receive signals to tell it when to turn on/off, and send signals when it is manually turned on/off. A very rudimentary form of power line networking could accomplish that simple signaling at 110 baud (so it would only pennies to the cost of the switch, as opposed to the complicated and expensive chips needed to demodulate high order QAM in ethernet speed powerline networking)

      The software to run all this can be in your PC, in your wireless router, in your game console, in your Roku or Apple TV...doesn't matter. All it has to do is be able to access that simple signaling from the switches and outlets, and it could do everything this system does and much more, with light bulbs that only cost a few bucks.

      Light bulbs with microphones to listen for the doorbell....my god, did someone actually think that could ever possibly be useful? I wish I knew what venture capitalist funded this company, I could come up with an equally harebrained scheme on the back of napkin during breakfast and pay myself $500K for a few years as CEO until it goes belly up.

      1. Drs. Security

        Re: cart before horse

        hope all that power line stuff will never be available overhere, we have enough PLC noise on the power lines that sometimes even lights dim out of themselves, radio equipment picks up extreme wide-band interference and generally other equipment (even networked once) experience issues with those things.

        Power lines are not meant for digital communications and misusing them for such is bound to lead to a lot of problems, including all your walls radiating radio frequency interference.

        Oh and if the communication isn’t secure I may be able to control your IOT equipment from 3 or 4 houses away because those PLC signals don’t mind traveling on the entire power grid near your home at all.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: cart before horse

          The sort of simple FSK tones you'd use to implement this aren't going to cause radio interference, you'd use some low frequencies like maybe 75/150 Hz for the tones. Transformers would prevent propagation, so you don't have to worry about neighbors the next house over. It would be a problem in apartment buildings though since you aren't separated from your neighbor by a transformer, so for those people some simple PKI for security would be a good idea.

          1. Richard Jones 1
            Stop

            Re: cart before horse

            If the signalling is from smart switch to semi responsive light bulb only, the transformer or other isolation device can be cheaply built into the switch to block the signals. Without it back propagation would likely play havoc with all of your other bulbs..

            Even then this is a solution crying in a wilderness for a problem. It appears most likely to appeal to those who possible live in a flat already since those with larger and perhaps isolated properties will likely have built in solutions that do more than light bulbs already.

            Perhaps I wish them well, but as they say in programmes seeking investors, I'm out.

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: cart before horse

              If the signalling is from smart switch to semi responsive light bulb only, the transformer or other isolation device can be cheaply built into the switch to block the signals. Without it back propagation would likely play havoc with all of your other bulbs..

              One could use back propagation as a feature, provided there is a way to set device addresses on the switches and the sockets, and assign function groups to them. This would allow several switches (in a corridor or a living room, for instance) to control a group of bulbs.

              This is one of the features of the home control system I'm using. In my installation it's not using mains signalling (you can, using the appropriate devices and a signal adapter); there's a two-wire serial power/data bus running past all devices in a star topology. It's not doing much fancy stuff at the moment, but apart from the obvious stuff like switching off the lights in an empty room, opening skylights when the temperatures outside and inside are in a certain range and it's not raining, etcetera, it reports if all the pertinent closeable items are closed when you want to leave, and sends an SMS in case of something being amiss when you're out.

              It is NOT remotely controlleable, although I can check its status when I'm ssh-ed in to my home network.

          2. Mage Silver badge

            Re: cart before horse

            "some low frequencies like maybe 75/150 Hz for the tones"

            Not any multiple of 25, 30, 50 or 60 due to TV and mains. But yes, the signalling can be low bit rate FSK, or even spread spectrum below 300Hz as spread spectrum is more immune to interference and allows multiple controllers using different pseudo random hopping sequences. So an apartment or hotel isn't a problem. At up to several kHz any transformers won't make much difference and range is considerable with low baud rate and less than 300Hz. So apart from aspect of security, which isn't optional for anything, you need a scheme with no need for collision detection.

            New switches would be paired via detachable IR USB stick (self powered) on controller direct via IR near the switch. The IR USB dongle would give the switch its address, unique hopping sequence and the encryption key used for the data.

            The minimum baud rate is set by command latency acceptable for minimum message size which is set by encryption scheme (I suppose a key fob type scheme could be used to reduce message size). The actual amount of bits needed for addressing and data is tiny.

          3. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

            Re: cart before horse

            @DougS - "Transformers would prevent propagation, so you don't have to worry about neighbors the next house over"

            Not everyone lives in rural America, with transformers on poles. I think having a sub-station for a whole street in quite common.

            "simple PKI" - Good idea, but probably harder to find than unicorn droppings.

          4. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: cart before horse

            Transformers would prevent propagation, so you don't have to worry about neighbors the next house over

            Ah yes, the US of A, with its wiring overhead and transformers on a pole, waiting for a vehicle to ram into it and knock out your mains. Europe has that stuff only in rural areas, if at all, and it's very well possible that your Powerline signals will reach a few neighbours.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: cart before horse

              At least if it goes down, it's quick to get back up. You can't say the same with underground wiring which can be broken up by a stray shovel or swamped by a flood or storm surge. Trust me, we checked the numbers and determined (especially on the coast with their high water tables) that it wasn't worth it.

      2. Mage Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: cart before horse

        The low speed networking over mains to smart light switches also unlike ethernet PLT creates ZERO interference. It also can be as secure as you like. I know someone that implemented secure signalling and paired devices for RC5 / RC6 IR remote protocols.

        You don't even need 110 bps. RC5 or RC6 with addressing and security can be used over the mains, via IR to switch and also even 433MHz /3xx MHz for outside shed, wireless doorbell etc (world vs USA, I forget the USA frequency).

      3. Fibbles

        Re: cart before horse

        I'm not a spark but AFAIK wall sockets and lighting must be on separate circuits (at least in the UK anyway). How would a PC plugged into a wall socket communicate with a light switch via power line networking?

        1. Commswonk Silver badge

          Re: cart before horse

          "Lighting" and "Power" are on separate circuits, but only from the fusebox, so PLT should be able to get from one to the other.

          Along with all the neighbours' PLT as well, of course, or at least those who are on the same phase. There will be attenuation of distant PLT signals, but will it be enough if homeowners saturate the housing stock with the pestilential stuff?

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: cart before horse

            "Along with all the neighbours' PLT as well, of course, or at least those who are on the same phase."

            A clamp-on RF choke on each of the incoming power wires works nicely and it's cheap.

          2. Richard 12 Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: cart before horse

            Yep. PLT happily goes between the lighting and ring final circuits.

            Also through your electric meter, your neighbours meter and into their house.

            And everyone else on your phase of the local substation.

            You need a really big inductor to block it - or a passive termination circuit specifically designed for the task.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: cart before horse - I'm not a spark

          Agatha Heterodyne would have a clank for it.

        3. Charles Manning

          Re: cart before horse

          " How would a PC plugged into a wall socket communicate with a light switch via power line networking?"

          They're normally connected together back at the fuse box.

          There's also a lot of inductive coupling between circuits too.

      4. Mark 85 Silver badge

        @DougS -- Re: cart before horse

        Light bulbs with microphones to listen for the doorbell....my god, did someone actually think that could ever possibly be useful? I wish I knew what venture capitalist funded this company,

        This is useful if you are deaf. However, the existing systems are less expensive and don't require a smartphone, etc. So why bother with these bulbs...?

        1. FlossyThePig

          Re: @DougS -- cart before horse

          @Mark 85

          I'm deaf and our front door has a cast iron knocker. It's effing loud, much louder than the dingly dong electrickery ones. No batteries to replace, and not affected by power cuts.

    3. Your alien overlord - fear me

      Re: cart before horse

      Alas no. Been there, tried that. Years ago (over 6 now), changed all my bulbs for LED ones (from that Emporium of Budget Asian Yuk - you know it). They are either one or off.

      Putting things like dimmer switches in means replacing all the bulbs which I'm not planning on doing for the next 20 years or so. Putting things like bluetooth in them means they are drawing a little bit of power always which is not why I went that direction.

      And yes, a decent 5 watt LED is comparable to ye olde 100 watt one, cheap 5 watt ones are comparable to 5 watt incandecant ones !!!

    4. Infernoz Bronze badge
      Meh

      Re: cart before horse

      Doesn't work at the wall switch unless you have power there, either Live, Neutral and Earth wires, or a battery.

      I bought motion sensor bulbs for a tiny fraction of the price, which do me fine.

    5. GrumpyWorld

      Re: cart before horse

      ...and the bulbs wouldn't look so ugly.

    6. Peshman

      Re: cart before horse

      LightwaveRF have been doing just that for years. Everything from lighting control to radiator thermostats and inline relay's. All cheaper, local WiFi and Internet enabled too.

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lightwaverf&sprefix=lightwave%2Caps

    7. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: cart before horse

      Rather than put the 'cleverness' into the bulb, why not put it into the wall switch?

      Exactly. I can't be the only person who thinks a room looks better if it's only lit by table lamps. But it's a pain to walk round the room turning them on individually.

      I have two rooms where the wall switch is wired to 5 amp wall sockets. It should be simple to create similar functionality with a wall switch that communicates via wireless or powerline with smart plugs in standard 13 amp outlets, so anything can be activated from the wall switch by the door.

  5. DougS Silver badge

    OMG the $10 a month subscription service

    Only clueless morons who believe the IoT hype and 'everything as a service' crap would think this is a good idea. It would be a good way to find the stupidest of the stupid, and then sell their names to other startups looking for a list of suckerspotential customers.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: OMG the $10 a month subscription service

      >Only clueless morons who believe the IoT hype

      Seem as if you can include the Motley Fool in that group:

      http://www.fool.co.uk/special-offer/death-of-the-internet-oct-2015/

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: OMG the $10 a month subscription service

        Only clueless morons who believe the IoT hype

        Seem as if you can include the Motley Fool in that group:

        http://www.fool.co.uk/special-offer/death-of-the-internet-oct-2015

        Indeed they have. That author seems particularly hyped over the dollar/pound signs being waved in front of him and not the tech itself... greedy little bastard egging on other greedy little bastards who have no clue.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OMG the $10 a month subscription service

      " It would be a good way to find the stupidest of the stupid, and then sell their names to other startups looking for a list of potential customers."

      How do you think spam actually works?

      Do you think those mis-spellings and the bad grammar are there by accident? No, it's to identify people who actually are rich and illiterate/innumerate. Then they get passed up the line by the footsoldiers to the guys who know how to perform the bank account extraction.

  6. Martin Summers Silver badge

    Even if I was loaded I would feel sick at the thought of spending this much on bulbs, I don't care how smart they are.

  7. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    I agree with all of the posts so far (which is a first)

    This is a toy. My younger me would have leapt at it, of course, but that's neither here not there. In the time I take out my phone, unlock it, start the app and wait for the BT to connect to the bulb I can switch on any light in my flat and put the kettle on. Would like it if the next door neighbours buy this though as it would make for an interessting way to field test the range of BT devices.

    1. Drs. Security

      Re: I agree with all of the posts so far (which is a first)

      which is only limited by the amount of metal in your walls and the knowledge you have of building a good directional or yagi antenna ;)

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: I agree with all of the posts so far (which is a first)

      "in the time it takes"

      And there's the rub. I've lived in this house for years; I can find my way around it blindfold and often move around in the dark. Notwithstanding that, I can put my hand on every lightswitch in the dark, should I need to see.

      These are *interesting* technology, but they're in the same class as the smart thermostats: they're a solution for problem that doesn't exist. As others have mentioned, there is no function provided by this system that either isn't already available or would be better provided in the switch itself. In other words, Toys.

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: I agree with all of the posts so far (which is a first)

        "These are *interesting* technology, but they're in the same class as the smart thermostats: they're a solution for problem that doesn't exist"

        Got to disagree on that. My tado system has saved me a fortune with the GPS switch on/off feature alone. It also knows exactly when and for how long to top up the heating to maintain the temperature. Turning the heating on remotely for guests etc or automatically when you are approaching home is also a great thing to have.

      2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: I agree with all of the posts so far (which is a first)

        After living in a house or apartment for any length of time one should know the layout and furniture location; you live there.About the only "feature" I see as being somewhat useful is for the lights to come on when the fire/smoke alarm triggers. However this probably could be done cheaper and more elegantly - maybe have an LED built into the alarm. Otherwise, mostly point less.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: I agree with all of the posts so far (which is a first)

          Indeed. My truly ancient smoke detectors have built-in lights.

          MR12 halogens in fact.

        2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: I agree with all of the posts so far (which is a first)

          > After living in a house or apartment for any length of time one should know the layout and furniture location

          And if you don't, well there is always the shinbone for detecting furniture in the dark.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: I agree with all of the posts so far (which is a first)

        " Notwithstanding that, I can put my hand on every lightswitch in the dark, should I need to see."

        Neon switches make finding them much easier in the dark too :)

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: I agree with all of the posts so far (which is a first)

          "Neon switches make finding them much easier in the dark too"

          Indeed, and I like them quite a lot - unfortunately, they are incompatible with most anything that isn't an old incandescent lightbulb, so they are a dying breed.

  8. Drs. Security

    Bluetooth a downside point?

    Although I understand why the author would think this, from a security standpoint I totally disagree.

    For me it would be a positive point.

    Having all the IOT stuff in your house requiring a cloud account option has two distinct disadvantages:

    - if your internet connection goes down, most or all of them lose the "smart" way to control them

    - if the cloud service itself isn’t secure or your password is too easily guessed, suddenly somebody else can control your IOT stuff too.

    (and that may include the IOT vendor).

    Bluetooth isn’t without security problems either though.

    Maybe this type of light would become even more interesting if a voice comment would let you turn them on and off as well. And yes I know Apple homekit may allow you to do so, but then you still need to have your phone or watch around to turn lights on and off, not very practical.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      There is a problem to solve

      The trouble is, it's not the consumers' problem. It's the bulb makers.

      LEDs don't need frequent replacement.

      Sales will plummet. There needs to be a new way to make money

      Light as a Service (LaaS) anyone?

  9. jake Silver badge

    I've been doing all that with X10 kit for ...

    ... Oh, I dunno, a third of a century?

  10. jonathanb Silver badge
    Joke

    Maybe we could add a Bluetooth wall switch to turn them on and off, much easier than fumbling around with a smartphone app.

  11. MatsSvensson

    Can you train it to bark like a dog?

    And what is that hole for?

    Can it replace both a pet and/or a girlfriend?

    Does it do half the work?

    Does it come in packs of 2?

  12. Oli 1

    Call them what you want - home automation has prevented at least one break in (attempted) that i know of at my place.

    Just added sensors to my external doors so the system knows when someone is coming or going and can then turn stuff on or off. Very useful when coming in legless at 4am.

    But during the day when no one is in, it knows someone is standing at my front door for more than a minute not ringing the door bell (hidden cctv camera), so it can turn a tv or radio on, and the hall light.

    Turns out the guy was picking my front door lock - as soon as the light came on he scarpered.

    HD Photo sent onto the police - he didnt return.

    Thanks Homeseer :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Any decent housebreaker at a front door will get in or give up in less than a minute, whether picking or forcing; so you might want to reconsider your timing interval. I think you've got a photo of a noob; still the police may catch him and bang him up, where he'll learn how to do it properly!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Disabled?

    Possibly a use for the disabled with Parkinson's or MS, if you can talk to the bulb. Even carrying items could be convenient. I have neither but have on occasion attempted to turn on a light switch with my shoulder or tongue.

    1. PNGuinn Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Disabled?

      "Turn on the toilet light, Hal"

      "Sorry Dave - I can't do that"

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Disabled?

      There have been voice-activated light switches for at least 30 years now, even longer if you count plain sound-activated switches. PIR would in a lot of cases do the trick too. As they replace the wall switch, there's no restriction regarding the light fixture.

  14. Frenchie Lad

    Size Does Matter

    At these prices what should I be doing with my chandeliers, each one has between 5 & 8 lights, a BeOn in E14 format! How much is that?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Size Does Matter

      So, you'd pay $500 for the bulbs in one chandelier? Can I interested you in a bridge?

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Size Does Matter

      You should replace it with an E27 ceiling lampholder, however if you live in the UK, finding such a thing could be a challenge, and you will probably have to import it from Europe.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Size Does Matter

        Or just go an pick one up from B&Q.

        Or HomeBase

        Or any electrical supplier.

        Or Amazon.

      2. PNGuinn Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: Size Does Matter

        The bloody things are becoming far too common here. It's nigh impossible to get a fancy outside fitting that's NOT edison screw. Most of the interior crap on sale has screw fittings, usually tiny shades with ses lamps. Try getting one of the buggers out.

        The sooner we mandate all lampholders to bc / sbc the happier I shall like it. <vainly hopes>.

        The fact is that, being old school, a crusty old git etc etc. I dont want to stoch all sorts of different silly lamps for lots of different silly fittings.

        If it needs a bulb - b22 gls is good enough. 40w, 60w, 100w, 150w. Sorted. Or the halogen equivalents. (Just don't try to run em sideways - cap up or cap down only).

        5 ft flourescent where the quality of light doesn't matter, PL9 for security lighting outside, although when that fitting finally bights the dust it gets replaced with a bc bulkhead with a led bulb.

  15. Charles 9 Silver badge

    I've read the article about timer operation, and I've thought that it would be nice to have a timer that's clever enough to maintain some variance in its operation. A savvy criminal may get wise to a light that turns itself on at the same time every night but if the turn on time wavers give or take 15 minutes, then it's harder to gauge if it's a person turning it on or a timer, making them more leery.

    Responding to a smoke alarm would also be useful, too, since it would imply an emergency and a situation where people may not be in a condition to reach switches (due to smoke they may be coughing or otherwise keeping to the floor to avoid it).

    Not saying these "smart bulbs" are the ideal answer to either one, but they do introduce some interesting use cases for which some more practical solutions may be developed.

    1. BobRocket

      Careless talk...

      'Responding to a smoke alarm would also be useful, too...'

      Take this thought through to the logical conclusion.

      All smoke alarms must ring the emergency services when they are activated (just like all mobiles must be able to ring them even when locked).

      Sure there will be the occaional false alarm (like when I'm rustling up some bacony goodness at 2AM) but if it saves just one life it will be worth it.

      Smoke alarms are already mandatory in rented accommodation, it won't be long before a (childs) life is saved and calls for them to be fitted into private households follow.

      To slow the number of false alarms, mandatory cameras will be next so that emergencies can be verified before despatching a fire engine, may as well turn the microphones on as well (to locate potential victims out of camera shot).

      Treats, tricks, carrots and sticks. Imagine what it could be earning.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If it saves one life it will be worth it

        'Sure there will be the occaional false alarm (like when I'm rustling up some bacony goodness at 2AM) but if it saves just one life it will be worth it.' - But will it be, really? Clearly sending a fire engine to every bit of burnt toast will save some lives, and it would certainly be good news for manufacturers of fire engines and dalmatian puppies. It would almost certainly cost more lives than it saves, as fire engines mow down pedestrians, and people in real fires wait for a fire engine to do its rounds of idiots.

        And at the end of the day, we put costs on saving life all the time. NHS budgets, speed limits, charity, taxes on sugar, thickness of armour on tanks, food hygiene inspectors, and almost every other aspect of our lives. If what we want to do is save the maximum number of lives per pound, we would almost certainly spend the money on childhood vaccines in the developing world and anti malarial measures. I would guess it costs about £100 for an Internet connected smoke alarm. That would 'save' at least 10 lives if spent on vaccination.

        1. BobRocket

          Re: If it saves one life it will be worth it

          I'm not in favour of always on sound and video nanny state smoke alarms but the purveyors of IOT devices are desperately looking for solutions to sell, if you can get your product mandated (like SRS) then you have a licence to print money.

          T.May would be more than mildly moist if she thought she could get away with imposing this.

          The last line is a paraphrase of two of Roger Waters lyrics.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Timers that operate at random times have been available for years.

      So has the WeMo bulb and WeMo switch.

      Switches that detect dusk and dawn.

      All old hat.

  16. Paul Cooper
    Thumb Down

    Bayonet?

    Why not a bayonet cap option? Every house I've lived in has had bayonet light fittings, with a very small number of Edison screw types, mainly in outdoor fittings.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bayonet? - Why not a bayonet cap option?

      Because most of the English speaking world (i.e. the US) that has money runs on ES. This is fine when you are using 120VAC, but the bayonet cap is used so that the wiring is double insulated from the physical connector, which is safer at 230V.

      I have often thought that, given house wiring was designed to run with incandescent bulbs at 240VAC, it should be possible to convert the entire lighting system to a SELV 48V DC main (i.e. as used for the telephone network) using LEDs (current would be about the same) which would make the whole system safer and easier to automate and allow the use of a single 48V float battery for emergency lighting/solar power. But of course the chance of a new standard evolving is zero.

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Bayonet? - Why not a bayonet cap option?

        My kitchen and bathroom are wired for 12V DC lamps, so a new standard is possible. Having said that, I will probably switch the kitchen to a 230V supply, because 50W, 680 lumen spots are not particularly bright, not at all energy efficient, and only illuminate a 1m diameter circle on the floor leaving the rest of the kitchen in darkness.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Bayonet? - Why not a bayonet cap option?

          Extra low voltage halogen is a lot more efficacious than 230V halogen. The filament is also a lot stronger so handles shock better.

          And extra low voltage LED is usually more efficacious and lasts a lot longer than the 230V versions as well. It's the power supplies that die on those.

          Unless you're switching to Florey tube, you're better off sticking with the 12V halogens and just making sure you get the really wide beam angle lamps.

          The narrow ones are very common, and utterly pointless!

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Bayonet? - Why not a bayonet cap option?

        but the bayonet cap is used so that the wiring is double insulated from the physical connector, which is safer at 230V.

        Here in the Rest of Europe we've managed to manufacture Edison screw sockets that don't have the screw thread connected (to what should be neutral), just a contact that touches the bulb thread once it's screwed down. At that point it's as good as impossible to touch the screw thread with your fingers. If there's no bulb present, your bayonet sockets offer the same potential for touching a live contact as an Edison thread socket.

        SELV 48V DC main

        There are downsides to using DC with respect to (conventional) switches: with AC the current drops to zero 100 (or 120) times per second, extinghuising any arc that may occur. If you check the current ratings for a simple toggle swich such as you may find at Maplin (if at all), its DC rating will be a fair bit lower than its AC rating. Semiconductor switches don't have that problem, though.

  17. Timo

    bring back the number ratings for the Reg Reviews

    I miss the 0/10 ratings and the short list of pro/cons. Would love to see this ranked, I bet at about a 4?

    1. Bluto Nash
      Trollface

      Re: bring back the number ratings for the Reg Reviews

      Well, it WAS rated a "Three stars out of five," so I presume you'd give it a 6/10 after doubling everything and dropping "stars out of five" and throwing a "/10" on in its stead. You can pick out your comparison bullet points if you simply RTFA...

      I know it's the weekend, but that's just slacking off.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blah blah blah... and you can turn a light on to make sure no one is hiding in the shadows when you get home. Seriously, get a bloody grip, this might happen in the movies but in the real world no one is hiding in your shrubbery waiting to get you. Even Billy the Baddy has better things to be doing.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "you can turn a light on to make sure no one is hiding in the shadows when you get home."

      Or you can just use PIR external lighting, which does that anyway.

  19. silent_count

    Yay for 'innovation'

    As PC hardware improves, software gets progressively slower and more bloated so as to negate any gains in speed or storage space the owner might have otherwise enjoyed.

    Obviously the purchase price and power consumption of LED globes have become unacceptably low. So thankfully there are people, like the company in this article, looking to solve that particular problem.

  20. keldin@reg

    My dad was disabled and we used radio shack versions for last 20 years, IBM was co producing for a while it helps if you cant reach the pulls even if your in the same room.

    People in wheelchairs can't easily get to all the lamps in room.

    just a thought...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    how many e-bulbs does it take

    to screw a punter?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So now we have lightbulbs that consume power

    even when they are 'off'.

    My wife complains about the amount of power the little LED display on the microwave uses!

  23. Your alien overlord - fear me
    Facepalm

    Bit upset, I thought this might be an el Reg readers special offer for joining the illuminati :-(

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      It is, but only for the bright enough ones who can find the randomly scattered letters of the invitation in the article text. I hope you're good at steganography...

  24. Christian Berger Silver badge

    A lot of money for a short term solution

    After all that system relies on an App being installed on your phone... so in 2 years you'll be faced with re-installing it on your new phone, so you'll need to get enough use out of it to make that worth. In 5-10 years you'll be faced with that company probably having moved to something else (e.g. new products or bankruptcy) so you'll slowly have troubles getting that App to run on your new phone.

    For something like this to succeed, we need simple and open standards. We need standards which are so simple you could use them with a shell script.

  25. 080

    Non Starter

    A quick count we have about 50 lamps in our house (you plant bulbs in the garden) of assorted shapes and sizes so three ES lamps are not a lot of use. As for remote control a couple of sets of RC sockets from Clas Ohlsen sorts that out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Non Starter

      "A quick count we have about 50 lamps in our house (you plant bulbs in the garden) of assorted shapes and sizes so three ES lamps are not a lot of use. As for remote control a couple of sets of RC sockets from Clas Ohlsen sorts that out."

      No, you light lamps with a match (in my dictionary, lamps imply a flame). And since I use bulbs, globes, AND tubes, I'll call them by their shape (and most electric lights ARE bulb-shaped; they remind me of onions).

      1. John 62

        bulb/lamp/pear

        In German, light bulbs are Glühbirne, i.e. annealing pears, or just pears.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: bulb/lamp/pear

          At least the logic's there. It does look like a pear, too.

  26. Kiwi
    Linux

    Probably already said but..

    Concept(s) - I find some ideas appealing. I'm often on call and unfortunately the house across the road has a fairly regular rate of new occupants - how long before I get one who has the brains to watch my house, see the bits of kit and other tools/toys go in and out, and know when I will be out for a few hours (big black laptop bag) as opposed to out for a brief shopping run (no bags). Something that makes it look like I am home is good.

    But I find the idea of fixed times (even if from a learning more an average of between 5:15 and 5:20 means it'll be 5:20) itself a bit worrying. Perhaps some randomness over a few minutes, maybe even 20 minutes. I know if I see the neighbours lights on at the same time every night I would assume timer. Given the local traffic patterns, getting home can vary quite a bit.

    I also think I could do a nice bit of controller hardware and software for much less. There's also options to add stuff to control the TV and STP/etc - even Windows Media Player had the ability to learn how to control your Sky etc box and transmit the appropriate remote IR signals (at least with some of the HP Media PC's which had a USB device with IR receiver and transmitter built in). So I could play "Yes I really am home and flipping channels and muting ads as well" (some little bit of either picking up an overall increase in volume OR get some voice recognition and program it to auto-mute those ads you really hate (of course, the downside here is my neighbours would have to believe I watch live TV any more - I'm afraid those "shouty twat" ads mean I no longer watch live TV (cept the cricket sometimes) ..

    Anyway.. For a bit of time and hardware expenditure I could probably do something that covers all that for less. And a little better. But having the house change automatically when I am away, and on a slightly random basis would be nice. (Must remember to record some sounds of me moving around as well.. and maybe a few variations of "Who's there? [pause] No I don't want to talk to you, go away" .. And some conversation as well - nothing drives nasty people away who may be lurking than something like "Who wants a drink" and 3 or 4 other voices responding... :) )

    Should sleep more too, so I don't write horribly long posts like this one...

    Price - that's the killer. Lounge - 3 lights. Kitchen + dining room (aka secondary test bench) another 3. Entry hall and outside lights - 3 more. Bedroom, bathroom and toilet.. So on their subscription model I would have the house fitted in around 12 years. Or spend enough for a nice new computer and a LOT of extra toys just for lights... When I could build in some interesting controller circuits and probably buy some top-of-the-line software to match for less than fitting out a couple of rooms.

    And probably next year the price will be half and someone will have taken my ideas, run with it, and there's a nice Linux program ready to go.. If there isn't one already...

  27. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "burglars are far less likely to try to break into a house that has lights on"

    And they are far, far less likely to try breaking into a house with an alarm system. Especially when all the other houses on the block don't have any.

    You're worried about burglars ? Get an alarm system. You'll be secure.

    As for controlling my lights with my phone from outside my front door, please. I have no inclination of managing anything in my house with such an insecure platform as a smartphone.

  28. Cuddles Silver badge

    Common fitting?

    "have the same common fitting as the most common screw-in lightbulb... In short, the form factor is exactly right to be installed extremely easily in your house."

    Except for the fact that most bulbs in the UK use bayonet fittings, not screw-in ones, so the form factor is not actually possible to install at all in most houses unless they replace all their light fittings first. Which is admittedly not particularly difficult, but is at a level of DIY that puts it well beyond "extremely easily" for most people.

    It's also worth noting that most burglaries* actually happen during the day when people are at work, not at night when it's much more likely there will be people in the house (the peaks are around 0900-1100 and 1300-1500). Setting lights on timers is pretty much useless, since no-one is going to be trying to break in when they're on anyway.

    * Under some definitions it's only burglary if it happens at night, but the UK police and government use the term regardless of time.

  29. si 4

    I have a Yeelight smart light and I find it useful so now wouldn't be without it. At first I thought it was a gimmick but I find the tieing in the lights to come on building up in intensity a few minutes before my phone alarm goes off is invaluable as I wake up feeling far more alert in these dark months.

    I also find it's good for watching tv as you can just whip the phone out whilst on the sofa and dim the lights instead of getting up and doing it.

    The modes for different times of day are really well thought out too, you can have the light on in the day when it's overcast and want a bit of extra brightness in the room but it knows what time it is so when you turn it on again at night it will have a much softer redder hue than the previous blueish one, similar to what F.lux does with computer displays.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      "I also find it's good for watching tv as you can just whip the phone out whilst on the sofa and dim the lights instead of getting up and doing it."

      But getting up gives your body a change of position and an opportunity to stretch...

      What I find interesting is how so many round here talk in terms of sole occupancy. Share your house with another person and then introduce children and you soon being to realise just how much pixie dust the IoT pundits have been snorting.

  30. DonnieHaft

    According to me the interesting thing that i observed is light off after 10 seconds but that essentially means you put the switch in the wrong place.

    I'm sure you could also easily get a delayed switch. That can't be too hard to do.

    I'm wondering if the problem is not the tech. Is the tech actually quite cheap, but the problem is that its almost impossible to make a living selling it?

  31. Zmodem

    light bulbs are useless, you can control your whole hous for £170 :

    http://swarmautomation.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=96

    beon need smart light bulbs to connect to common smart house boxes that have been on the market for 10 years, then you can turn your lights on using your phone

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