This post also appeared in The Tennessean, where Concept Technology has a bi-weekly feature in the Business section.
Well, if you have a strong interest in home automation like I do, connected light bulbs likely have you pretty excited.
To back up, home automation is the ability to use technology to control and automate electrical systems, appliances and other electronic devices. It saves time and energy, offers convenience and enhances the capabilities of your home. Connected lighting, or “smart lights,” is a blanket term used to describe a lighting system you can control through your smartphone or laptop. So as you move throughout your home, you can dim and raise lights, turn them off and on, change their color, etc.
You may not realize, but the technology behind light bulbs has changed drastically over the years.
Traditional incandescent bulbs are inefficient — they convert 3 to 8 percent of the energy they use into visible light (with the remaining energy being converted into heat) — and thus consume more power. But many consumers still rely on incandescent lights because of the pure, clean color of the light they emit. Fluorescent lights are less popular with many people, because the lights’ unpleasant hue, flickering and long warm-up time can cause issues and headaches for some.
In the business setting, though, fluorescents reign supreme because of their efficiency — they convert 15 to 20 percent of energy into visible light — and longer lifespans.
More recently, LED bulbs offered ultimate efficiency — converting 90 to 99 percent of their energy into visible light — but original LED bulbs were sharp, blue-toned and irritating.
Connected LED bulbs offer the best of both worlds: high efficiency and a customizable coloring and tone.
When I was recently given the opportunity to demo the Philips Hue Wi-Fi-enabled bulbs, which are widely considered the current leader in the market (though LG and Samsung both unveiled new smart bulbs in March), I jumped at the opportunity.
I asked one of Concept Technology’s engineers, Rich Gericke, to test the bulbs and give me his assessment. This is what he said:
“I originally had mixed feelings about Philips Hue, mostly due to the cost — the bulbs cost $60 apiece and their warranty lasts only two years. But I was pleasantly surprised and overall I really enjoyed the experience of Philips Hue.”
“The Philips Hue bulbs appear to be of solid construction, and the light quality and colors are outstanding. The bulbs do what they were designed to do, which is allow you to set the color of the bulb however you’d like. This makes them great for accent lighting, dimming and entertaining the kids.”
“Another big plus is that Philips Hue has an open source API (application programming interface) available for the geeks out there to make the lights do things they weren’t intended to do, such as react to sound.”
“The bulbs’ lasting value will vary from person to person. However, if you are highly creative, a tech geek or someone who is into home automation, they just might be the coolest thing you put in your home.”
Disclaimer: I was given a free set of Philips Hue Wi-Fi-enabled bulbs to test by Verizon Wireless as part of a demo program that allows journalists and tech influencers to test new devices. However, I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are solely mine.
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