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Lightbulbs as the “Glue” of the Smart Home

Lightbulbs as the “Glue” of the Smart Home
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Chief Innovation Manager at GE Lighting on how LEDs are the new tech-adoption frontier

PSFK Op-Eds
  • 11 february 2016

When electricity was first introduced more than a century ago, it took more than 30 years to achieve true adoption — while tablets took only more than two years to achieve this same adoption. Consumers are adopting new technology faster than ever.

At GE, we’re bullish on LED growth, and we’ve announced that we’re ramping up LED production to meet consumer demand. Today, ~15% of consumer sockets use LED, and by 2020 about half of all consumer sockets will be LED. And not long after, consumers will change the way they light their homes forever.

LED technology enables us to explore innovation possibilities with LED beyond basic illumination. We’re creating intelligent LEDs for homes that can sense and hear, and these bulbs will become connectivity points for the smart home, acting as routers, or the “glue,” for smart home interoperability. The average home has 45 sockets, all with unobstructed vantage points. That’s prime real estate for smart home platform connection points, enabling functionality and connectivity from any room in the home — not limited to placement of a hub or smart phone.

We’re bombarded with new smart home technology introduced each day, but there are a few barriers holding consumers back. Beyond the obvious barrier of price, hurdles include complex installation, poor user experience and lack of interoperability. These leave even the early adopters frustrated and wanting better options.

For many, lighting is the first step to an intelligent home that leverages other connected devices including smart thermostats, security cameras, door locks and smoke alarms. Even the savviest consumers can stumble, however, in a market crowded with novel and pricy products and come up with no clear platform winner. Our engineers focus on creating products that solve problems — not tech for the sake of tech — and ensure those products have the best user experience.

GE recognizes that smart technologies can have a steep learning curve, and consumers building their connected homes need faster, easier ways to get started. That’s why our engineers developed C-Life and C-Sleep. Every day (and night), intelligent LED light bulbs that can be controlled without a separate smart hub.

C-Sleep takes over at night by creating the perfect bedroom light. GE closely studies the science of light and how it impacts our lives, and developed C-Sleep to provide a warm, calming light that does not suppress the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for a healthy sleep-wake cycle. And in the morning, C-Sleep changes settings to emit a crisp, energizing light that gives the body an extra boost.

C-Life gives consumers a way to create optimal light in their connected home at every moment. The bulb can dim or brighten instantly, and multiple bulbs can be grouped and operated together. Users also have the option of scheduling lights to switch on or off at the desired times. This makes it easy for light to suit any situation around the house, whether cooking a meal, dining with family, working out or just hanging out.

Just as the telephone evolved into today’s smartphone, so too has the light bulb become today’s smart LED.

Tom Stimac is Chief Innovation Manager at GE Lighting.

Person with an idea via Shutterstock

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