connected lightbulbs
LightFreq

LightFreq’s Connected Bulbs Deliver Audio Plus Visuals

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If you’re having trouble choosing whether to buy a connected lightbulb or a Bluetooth speaker then points your eyes at this Kickstarter project: LightFreq combines an app-controlled lightbulb with a Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connected speaker so you can have your visual cake and consume some audio too.

The built-in speaker means the bulb can play music streamed via Bluetooth (it’s aiming to streams some services via Wi-Fi too — currently Rhapsody, Napster, TuneIn and SomaFM). It’s also being designed to function as an intercom, so users will be able to speak through a LightFreq-enabled light-fitting in a particular room via the companion app. That won’t be at all weird.

LightFreq offers an alarm function that can wake you slowly (or speedily) with light and audio too. And there’s a proximity feature that can be configured to trigger lights and audio when you enter a room and to follow you round the house (if you’ve kitted all your rooms with multiple LightFreqs).

The controllable light element means you can also program visual notifications for things like calls, emails, texts and Facebook notifications, based on assigning a particular colour to a particular comms type, as well as generally setting mood lighting (and tunes) of your choosing. If that’s not enough, the makers are planning to offer an SDK to further expand the features LightFreq supports.

Each LightFreq contains a 5 watt speaker with an audio output of 60 hertz to 20 khz. The 800 lumens lightbulb is good for 40,000 hours of use, and the whole unit consumes 17 watts of power when on.

At this point LightFreq remains a prototype — but they’ve nearly doubled their crowdfunding target of $50,000 and still have 21 days left on their campaign to run so they already have more than enough funds in the bag to build shipping product.

While LightFreq shares something with Ion, a wireless light that responds to audio and touch, it goes one further by combining light and sound into a single bulb unit. The idea directly overlaps with the likes of the Whome Bulb and Mipow’s PlayBulb, although the former failed to hit its Kickstarter funding goal so seems unlikely to make it to market anytime soon. And the latter is less fully featured than LightFreq (although fewer features can actually equate to a more mass market appeal product).

But fully featured is going to attract geeks and power users. So no surprise that LightFreq’s makers say they are looking to add support for IFTTT.

It’s clear the team behind LightFreq is still ironing out bugs, nailing down details and figuring out priorities at this point in the product development process. One area they’re really going to need to nail down is making sure that controlling multiple LightFreqs positioned around the home or multiple users in a family home all trying to pipe content to the same LightFreqs doesn’t result in audio-visual chaos.

Their current app prototype also looks rather complex. So their challenge – beyond the primary one of turning a Kickstarter hardware prototype into shipping product — is managing the complexity of all the controls they’re offering to ensure a stable, easy to use product that does not result in domestic disharmony. ControlFreq might also have been a more appropriate name for this product.

At the time of writing the LightFreq is up for grabs to Kickstarter backers starting at $70 per unit – with an estimated shipping date of next February.