Smart Lighting, Smart Homes Big at CES

Jan. 9, 2015

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week is the technology industry’s annual new year ritual showcasing the latest, greatest, weirdest and most fanciful innovations. Among the wearable electronics, drones, quantum dot televisions and talking bathroom scales, there were a number of introductions related to lighting and smart home concepts that generated buzz among the techno-forward crowd.

Philips Lighting has generated lots of interest over the past year by pairing its Hue controlled LED lighting system with videos Sharknado and 12 Monkeys, but what interested reporter Lee Hutchinson from Ars Technica more was its integration with popular video games such as Minecraft by way of an in-game mod that changes the room’s Hue lighting system in concert with the game’s environment. “Planting a torch on a cave wall caused the lights to flip on; diving underwater cast the room in a dark blue glow; dying led to red flashes as the player’s heath meter bottomed out,” he wrote.

Osram Sylvania’s new connected lighting system, Lightify, caught some attention as an indoor/outdoor lighting system controllable from a mobile device app using the ZigBee Home Automation standard.

AppleInsider staff reporters were drawn to the Alba lighting system from Stack Lighting, Cupertino, Calif., which bills it as the “world’s first responsive lightbulb.” According to the report, Alba will shut off if it determines that a room is empty, or dim itself when activated late at night, depending on user settings. Users can also manually control the bulbs with an iOS app, setting alarms and parameters for different bulbs throughout the house. Stack said it plans to build in HomeKit integration for Alba so iOS device users can control the bulb via Siri.

Lighting manufacturer Sengled, based in Atlanta, caught the attention of Nate Swanner, a reporter for SlashGear. “Their Pulse Solo is the first LED light with a built-in dual speaker for audiophiles, while the Boost is meant to enhance WiFi anywhere in your home.” The company’s Snap product line was picked as the Best of Innovation in the show’s Innovation Awards in the Smart Home product category. It was described as an “Indoor/Outdoor LED PAR lamp with integrated 720p HD IP camera, microphone, and speaker. Supports cloud recording/playback, voice and motion activation, facial/activity recognition for home security, automation, and commercial applications.”

The smart home concept, rebranded as the Internet of Things for the home, continues to be more dazzling than useful. The CEO of Samsung caused a stir by mentioning what may be the most obvious obstacle to the smart home: the need for open standards so vendors of all kinds can contribute.

Google’s Nest thermostat advanced in its quest to be the central control for the smart home, with a growing cadre of products including Stack Lighting certified in its “Works with Nest” program.

More tangential to the electrical industry, but still sort of interesting, a reporter for Business Insider declared a flash for taking better “selfies” the best product unveiled at this year’s CES. Not quite sure what to make of that.