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Wifi Light Bulbs: Smart Step or High-Tech Clutter?

5/20/2011 12:00:00 AM

Tags: light bulb, lighting, smart lighting, technology

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailWhat if every light bulb had its own unique Internet IP address?

Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductors asks this question in announcing its new Internet-enabled Smart Lighting network powered by the GreenChip this week. My immediate question: Why would I want my bulbs to have IP addresses?

NXP believes the possibilities with its new smart lighting technology, which allows compact fluorescent and LED lights to be controlled by any Internet-enabled device, are endless: “You could monitor, manage and control every light bulb from any Internet-enabled device–turning lights on and off individually, dimming or creating scenes from your smartphone, tablet, PC or TV–to save energy as well as electricity costs,” NXP states. “Your ‘smart lighting’ network could have dozens or even hundreds of appliances connected through a wireless network designed for maximum energy savings, communicating information about their environment, about power consumption levels, and alerting you to any problems.”

John Croteau, senior vice president and general manager, power lighting solutions and high performance RF for NXP Semiconductors, says GreenChip “signals a fundamental shift in the way we interact with lights.” Homeowners can turn on and off lights when and where they need them, at the desired level of brightness, from anywhere. “Our Smart Lighting solution also brings us one step closer to the ‘Internet of Things’–a world in which every home appliance can be monitored and controlled via an IP address–at a very compelling price point for consumers,” Croteau adds.

Kit Eaton, writing in Fast Company, buys into the possibilities. “You'll also be able to control mood lighting `states’ with a remote control, or via your iPad, as if you were a theater lighting designer; you'll be able to quickly and easily incorporate movement sensing automated lighting, that could even turn on dimly if it detects you're stumbling to the bathroom at midnight; and you'll be able to download apps to hone and polish your home's lighting energy needs so that you end up with a smaller power bill,” he writes.

What do you think? Are these the logical first step toward building “smart” homes controlled and monitored by our smart phones, or just another gadget to add to our high-tech clutter? When will this party be over?

nxp bulbs 

NXP's GreenChip smart lighting solution lets homeowners remotely turn on and off the lights. Photo courtesy of NXP 

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