New Smart Bulbs Play Music, Extend Wi-Fi, Fool Burglars And Work When Your Power's Out
Light bulbs have come a long way since their inception back in the day. While Thomas Edison is usually credited with the invention, like so many scientists and inventors, he was but one out of many that actually contributed to the end result. Nowadays, light bulbs come in all shapes and sizes and deliver more than just light. Since the introduction of LED bulbs, a real light bulb evolution revolution has begun. Yes, LED light bulbs are touted as using roughly 90 percent less electricity than old incandescent bulbs and are supposed to last up to 25 years, but now they offer more than just light and energy savings.
Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
While the life of these energy efficient bulbs, in my experience, hasn’t quite measured up, there are some versatile new bulbs out there currently that make up for it. Now, it’s nothing to control a smart bulb through the use of a companion app on your mobile device. Heck, you can even adjust the lighting level with it through a dimmer switch and change the color, if the mood strikes you. But what about things like listening to music, extending your Wi-Fi throughout the house and having a bulb that will still light up when the power is out? Those are just a few of the things today’s smart bulbs can do.
Smart Bulb Wi-Fi Repeater
Here’s a very clever bulb with a feature that a lot of people who prefer wireless connections will like. It’s called the Sengled Boost bulb, and it acts as a little extra oomph to your Wi-Fi signal so you can use Internet throughout a structure without having to deal with waning signal strength. What it does is it basically picks up the signal as it’s fading from the router and it rebroadcasts it, essentially giving it a boost throughout your living or working space. How does it do it? Through the use of a built-in repeater that gets its juice from the light socket itself. Simply brilliant! There’s only one catch: Turning the light off manually turns the booster off as well. You can get around that by controlling it from the accompanying app.
Smart Bulbs for Power Outages
The SmartCharge 2.0 is an amazing battery-backed LED bulb designed to work during power failures. The size of an ordinary light bulb, it can be used in any lamp or light fixture. Once the power goes out, the backup battery automatically kicks in and the bulb will work for 3.5 hours. Now here’s the crazy part: You can still control the bulb from the switch while the power is out! I know, spooky, huh? The battery conveniently recharges when the power is returned and needs to be replaced roughly every three years. This is one of the simpler smart bulbs out there right now in that it needs no Internet, remote control, app, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or anything else to function. If you live in a place prone to blackouts, this is the way to go.
Sound System Smart Bulbs
Smart bulbs that play music, what will they think of next? Yes, just about everything is Bluetooth enabled now, so why not your light bulbs? Sengled Pulse and Sengled Pulse Solo are smart bulbs that act as Bluetooth speakers to play whatever your computer, tablet or smartphone is playing. The Pulse is sold in a set of two that includes a master bulb and a satellite bulb. They’re pretty big, so they’re not going to accommodate most lamps, but they’re perfect for ceiling cans. The master bulb pairs with your Bluetooth enabled device and is controlled by an app. Users can switch the bulbs to on/off, dim, or adjust the volume all from their phones. There’s also an adapter you can purchase for your subwoofer to improve sound quality.
If you like the idea but you don’t have recessed lighting in your home or apartment, you can still use the Pulse Solo. It’s a standard-sized bulb that provides 500 lumens of light and comes with two one-inch speakers, but their close proximity hardly produces stereo-quality sound. While they’ll fit most any lamp, it’s said the Pulse Solo works best both sound and illumination-wise when used in overhead fixtures.
Bulbs for Home Security Systems
Motion detector lighting has been around for decades. When having a security assessment done for your home, it’s one of the first things crime specialists recommend for deterring bad guys. Now there’s a smart bulb called BeOn that falls into that category. It’s another Bluetooth-paired bulb that works from an app, but, oh, the things it can do. For starters, you can turn them on and off from your phone and they dim slowly, so you still have time to exit a room with some light or go inside the house without tripping in the dark. Like the SmartCharge 2.0, you can use them in any existing fixture and they have a built-in battery for (up to four hours) use during power outages.
The BeOn also features a built-in microphone so you can train them to recognize sounds like your doorbell, smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms. Once they hear a noise they recognize they come on, if that’s what you want. You can even program a group of them to turn on in a sequence throughout your home to fool people into thinking you’re aware of their presence and making your way to the front door. Think that’s cool? It gets better: the BeOn smart bulbs basically learn your habits and monkey them in Away mode. That’s right. As you use them over the days, weeks and months they store your daily usage habits in their memory and mimic them when you’re gone if set to Away. This would totally throw burglars for a loop.
BeOn smart bulbs contain a removable battery/circuitry brain module that the company hopes to continually evolve so that someday users will be able to add new features through upgraded modules. The only drawback with people so far is the app does not appear to be overly simple to understand, the packaging does not contain a user manual, and there’s been some grumblings of the official website’s how-to section not being all that helpful. Seeing as the product was a Kickstarter concept not that long ago, it and its accompanying instructions are bound to evolve and improve over time. Sengled has a version of their own that includes a camera and a speaker.
19th Century Inventors
One can only wonder what contributors to incandescent lighting like Warren de la Rue, Joseph Swan and Thomas Edison would think of the light bulb now.