A new Kickstarter project debuting today offers a lower barrier of entry to those interested in testing the smart lighting waters. At just $25 for an entry-level pre-order of a single unit, the LuMini is the cheapest way to get started with a smart home lighting system, albeit with some trade-offs compared to category leaders like the Philips Hue.
The LuMini comes from TABU Design, a Hong Kong shop that makes the Lumen Bluetooth smart bulb. The full-size Lumen is fairly large, though, and has a 40-watt equivalent output all for $69. The LuMini has the lower retail cost, but it’s also less powerful: TABU Design says it’s ideal for a “night lamp,” but doesn’t specify how many lumens it actually outputs. It uses 3 watts, compared to 7 watts for the standard-sized Lumen, so you can expect it to be probably around half as bright.
With a companion app, you can control the light color, brightness and scheduling, but the difference from most other connected lighting systems with the LuMini is the Bluetooth connectivity: It uses the low-power standard introduced in Bluetooth 4.0 to connect, which greatly simplifies the connection and setup process, but which also has some disadvantages in terms of range (20 ft. maximum) and the ability to remotely connect to your lighting system, which allows you to control bulbs like the Hue from anywhere with connectivity.
The BLE approach still allows for things like proximity activation, however, and it can even be set to trigger light-based notifications for incoming calls. The real innovation here is on price, however, since this is a long-lived LED bulb (rated at 30,000 hours) that will retail for around $30. Also, it’s a very small bulb, whereas others like the LIFX smartbulb have been criticized for their larger-than-normal size.
The TABU Design team hopes to ship the LuMini in April this year, which isn’t that much of a stretch when you consider that they’re already actively shipping the original Lumen, which is sold via its website and through Amazon. The project is seeking $50,000 in 30 days, and hopefully it gets there, because what this market really needs is more price pressure to drive mass market adoption.