Bulbs are Getting Smarter, but Not Necessarily Better

The movement away from traditional incandescent light bulbs to newer energy-saving LED bulbs is shaping the lighting industry. Engineers have furthered innovation by learning to input a wireless antenna and brain into the base of the new bulbs which allow consumers to control the lights in their home to their phone. While these bulbs used to cost over $100, General Electric has recently entered the market with a new $15 60-watt replacement bulb, followed by Belkin with a $30 bulb. These “smartbulbs” are a hike from the original $10 LED bulbs. So why would consumers want them?

The bulbs can be programmed to wake you in the morning and even turn on in time for you to come home- all from your phone. Furthermore, they can sync to other electronics in your home, such as thermostats and televisions, as well as be controlled to limit energy usage and alert the residents in the case of a fire. Geoffrey Fowler, writer for The Wall Street Journal tested multiple smartbulb complexes throughout his home, including the latest from GE, Belkin, Philips, Insteon and Lifx.

…it didn’t take long to discover that, in many ways, they’re still catching up with the Clapper. When you turn over control of your lights to an app, the basic act of turning on a light can become slow or ludicrously complicated. It’s an example of how the much-hyped Internet of Things can lapse into novelty—or parody—by failing to be as easy to use as the things it replaces.

According to his experience, the smartbulbs, as well as the apps to control them, total cost ranges from $65 to $150. Interestingly, Fowler’s experiences with the products echoed that of Consumers’ Research Philips Hue Review  (LINK). While he found they were fun and did have a couple fun convenient uses, the bulbs remain overpriced and lack the convenience thought to be associated with Apps.


Read CR’s review of the Philip’s Hue here.


Read more here, “Light Bulbs Get Smarter, but not Easier,” (Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Wall Street Journal)

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Olivia is a graduate of Villanova University where she studied Economics and History, minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. She also has experience working with federal legislatures on health care policy, women's issues, and Internet safety.


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