It’s days like today that make me proud to be an Aussie. We’re a creative, innovative lot aren’t we? And better yet, we love our technology, so when the creative juices start flowing we can create some amazing ideas. The amazing creation I’m talking about is LIFX (pronounced “lyfex”) and it’s the latest Kickstarter success story.
LIFX is a light globe for today. Made up of multi-coloured LEDs, WiFi enabled and controlled from your iPhone or Android devices (sorry Windows Phone). The mobile applications allow an amazing level of control including brightness, colour, even sound activation.
Lights can be grouped just like the zones we’re used to from Sonos audio gear. This means lighting in the kitchen/living area could be controlled independently from bedrooms. If you’re home doesn’t have WiFi, get and get it now. There’s also a master switch to ensure everything is off before you leave the house.
While IP-based lighting isn’t new, the innovation here is that the creators have been able to shrink the technology required to be small enough to fit inside the base of each light. If you choose to support the Kickstarter project, you get to choose from Edison Screw, Bayonet Cap or Downlight types.
This magic is created by LIFX Labs (formerly LimeMouse) which consists of Phil Bosua, Andrew Birt, Dave Evans, Andy Gelme, Guy King and John Bosua. This team of designers, developers, hackers and makers started out in a Melbourne garage in Australia and have since expanded the vision and relocated to San Francisco’s Bay Area.
The reason this project is so exciting is that home automation has been aspired to for many years, but has not been practical for retrofitting existing houses and been far too expensive. LIFX solves the first of these issues, but does have a serious cost attached for this revolution in home and business lighting.
A US$119 pledge +$10 for international delivery will get you 2 LIFX globes. If you want 4, that number jumps to US$196 +$20 for delivery or 6x LIFX smartbulbs for US$294 +$30. This means the prices for each globe are between US$54 ad $64.50 each. A massive premium on the regular $2-3 for a standard globe.
Despite the price, this is an amazingly important turning point in home automation. I recently investigated the average price for a Control4 home automation system for a typical 3 bdr house. For a system that includes lighting, video and multi room music, an average system cost between A$30,000 and $40,000.
That puts the LIFX pricing in perspective. What I hope happens is that the project is incredibly successful and reaches mass production, allowing prices to drop to around $20 per globe. This would make the technology affordable to most households.
With a technology that has the potential to change how we interact with light, the wait till March 2013 for delivery will be an agonising one. I’m in for 4x LIFX smartbulbs and you can follow my Kickstarter purchases here. Expect an explosion of connected, smart devices in the home and prices to plummet as startups continue to disrupt entrenched businesses that price gouge consumers.