Reinventing the Light Bulb

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LIFX bulb and app
A rendering of the finished LIFX bulb and the controller app
LIFX bulb and app
A rendering of the finished LIFX bulb and the controller app

Kickstarting the Enlightenment

Kickstarter is a hell of a thing. For those of you not familiar with the site, Kickstarter is a website that allows start-ups, entrepreneurs, artists, inventors and small businesses to crowd fund their creative projects, offering backers concrete rewards in return for their cash. A recent and hugely successful Kickstarter project originates from San Francisco, and, if it lives up to the hype could change the way we think about household lighting. After asking for $100,000 to get the project to fruition, LIFX designer, Phil Bosua was inundated with funding, raising over $1.3 million before running through all his pledge rewards.

The LIFX is a LED light bulb with built in Wi-Fi connectivity. What this means is that the light is both hugely energy efficient, using about 1/10th as much power as a conventional bulb and it can be controlled via your smart phone. The ideas behind the LIFX bulb aren’t new. There have been LED lights and Wi-Fi controlled light fixtures for some time now, but the LIFX merges these two concepts and integrates both right into the bulb itself. The smart phone control mechanism also gives the LIFX a far greater range of customisation options than other Wi-Fi fittings. You can set timers, adjust the colour of your lights, set light based alarms, get notifications for messages and social networking, add a visualisation element to your favourite music and more.

The bulbs will be available in all the common types – bayonet, Edison screw and downlight – and will cost around $59 USD each. It’s a hefty price to pay for a bulb, but considering the developer, Phil Bosua boasts that the bulbs could last up to 25 years, a few bulbs could potentially save you money in the long run. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it.

You can read more about the LIFX here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/limemouse/lifx-the-light-bulb-reinvented

Vaporware?

Not everyone is as impressed with the LIFX bulb as those that contributed to the stunningly successful Kickstarter campaign. Some believe that if something sounds way too good to be true then it probably is! In a very interesting opinion piece published on the Reuters website, financial journalist Felix Salmon pulls apart the LIFX campaign and asks some very pointed questions, chief amongst them being how Phil Bosua can reinvent the light bulb for so little money when tech giants have failed to. Another, similar bulb, the Switch light bulb, was meant to go on sale in October 2011 but still has not seen the light of day, even with tens of millions of dollars in backing. How can a small team make an energy efficient bulb with Wi-Fi connectivity and a 25 year life span for just over 1.3 million dollars, let alone the $100,000 they originally asked for?

You can read the entire opinion piece here:

http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/18/kickstarter-vaporware-of-the-day-lifx-edition/

LIFX Founder Phil Bosua
LIFX founder Phil Bosua

So what do you think? Have Phil Bosua and his team reinvented the light bulb or have they, as some have suggested, promised something way too good to be true.