The smart light bulb category is heating up. Following entries by LG and Philips, Samsung announced Thursday that it is now in the game of making your lamps and ceiling lights into peripherals.
The Samsung Smart Bulb features LED lighting and Bluetooth connectivity, allowing it to be controlled directly from a device via an app instead of through Wi-Fi or a bridge. A user can control as many as 64 lamps at one time, and brightness can be lowered to 10 percent of the highest level.
The light bulbs have a lifespan of 15,000 hours, which Samsung said should cover 10 years. Regular LED bulbs are rated for 25,000 hours. Models will include an L-tube, a standard lamp bulb, and units for professional applications. The smart light bulbs will be launched at the Light + Building 2014 show in Frankfurt, Germany, which opens on March 30. Pricing has not been announced.
LG's Smart Lamp
Earlier this week, LG announced its 10-watt Smart Lamp for either iOS or Android smartphones, over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. That product, however, has only been released so far in that company's home country of South Korea.
The LG bulb can be turned on or off via the smartphone. In its announcement Thursday, Samsung didn't specify that kind of basic functionality on its coming product, but one assumes it would exist.
LG does enable its Smart Lamp to act as a notification light for your smartphone. When you have a call coming in, whether or not your phone is set to ring, the bulb can be set to blink.
It can also act as an alarm clock, with a gradual brightening until you wake up, or as a low-cost way to discourage would-be robbers by turning on or off at irregular times. It can also become a party light, with variations in brightness matching variations in music tempo. The LG light bulb, at a pricey $32 each, is also expected to last for 10 years.
Last fall, Philips released its Hue smart lamp, which is controlled via a bridge that plugs into a home Wi-Fi router. It can also be controlled so that it helps to deter robbers, or it can be set to wake you up with a brightening light.
In another indication that the smart bulb category is already showing differentiation, the Philips version can show different colors as well as variable brightnesses. You can also save light bulb setups by room or time of day, and display those settings manually or on a timer.
And, in what will likely become a trend among smart bulb makers, Philips has decided that its Hue is really a platform for apps. The Dutch company is encouraging developers to create new apps for what used to be known as just a light bulb.