Home > IOT, SmartHome > Why I want all my lights to be smart…

Why I want all my lights to be smart…

This week Theo Priestley of Forbes posted an interesting article, where he posed a couple of interesting questions:

An average home in the UK can potentially run to over 15 or so light bulbs, but how many would a consumer realistically want to be smartly enabled and connected to the internet ? And again, just what is the value they’re going to receive from controlling them remotely ?

As I sit in my office I have 9 light bulbs around me – I know I’m not in the UK, but I’m British and I don’t remember the UK being particularly starved of bulbs last time I visited. Perhaps Theo meant “light switches” in which case I only have 5 – but the first question he asks is why we want them all to be smart?

My answer is the following – when I get up at 4 am for a flight I don’t want to wake my wife up. I also don’t want to trip over on my way across the room to the light switch.

Wouldn’t it be great if a motion detector in the bedroom realized I was moving about, understood it was 4am not 10pm, and raised the lights to 10% automatically so I could see my way around – and when I closed the bathroom door, turned the bedroom lights off and raised the bathroom lights to 50%? 

It would take a couple of smart dimmer switches, a motion detector,a door switch and a pretty simple rule to achieve this – probably less than $100 – I could do it using any of the current smart home systems, Insteon, Smartthings etc.

There are a lot of times I’d like the lights in my house not only to go on and off due to some trigger, but to be a certain brightness – low during movies, but bright enough to walk around without fear, brighter while I’m cooking in the kitchen etc. Think how much energy could be saved if we went beyond the concept of “on and off”?

Next question from Theo is why we want them connected to the Internet? – I agree here, connecting all your lights to the internet makes no sense – except perhaps your driveway or outdoor light. I’d love the outdoor light to come on automatically as I drive up to my house – and no, a motion sensor doesn’t address my problem – I don’t want to be blinded by a security light as I pull up the drive – I just want enough light to find my way around and be sure no one is lurking in the shadows.

Some form of proximity sensor would probably work, but for increased range I can see a need for my phone and house to communicate.

For the rest of the lights though? Not only do I not need to be able to control them when I’m not in the home, but I actually DON’T want the internet involved – I don’t want my ability to turn on the toilet light dependent on my broadband connection.

Final question from Theo – what value are we going to get? – Well, from Internet connected lights, I think very little. For smart controlled lights? Having automatic activity and brightness control, and situation awareness is going to be life-changing. I gave some examples above, but what about having your security system turn all the lights on to max if a fire is detected, or the alarm goes off? What about only having your landscape lighting on if there’s activity in a room with a window looking out over it? The opportunities for an enriched experience are endless.

If I was building a house there’s no way I wouldn’t make every outlet and switch smart – but it’s automation that’s valuable, not moving the light switch from the wall to your phone.

An app that replaces a wall switch is kind of pointless, and perhaps that’s what Theo is talking about.

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