The lightbulb is dead, long live the smart bulb
The era of the humble, dumb lightbulb may soon be over. These days smart lightbulbs are being made for home and business, and look set to make a significant contribution to the smart home.
As IoT Now’s Jeremy Cowan finds in talking to Jutta Peinze, marketing director Europe, Sengled, there are now bulbs through which you can play music and which are controlled via an app. Newer releases even feature a camera, a Wi-Fi booster and a battery in case of power cuts.
IoT Now: Internet-connected lighting has been available for some years, but has not yet seen widespread consumer buy-in. Why do you think that is?
Jutta Peinze (JP): Changing peoples daily behaviour takes time, so just pushing a switch is very different from using a smart phone to manage your light. The benefit of the new way of using light needs to be big, therefore we believe that what we call ‘smart lighting‘ must be amazing and fun.
How about bringing JBL speakers in your lightbulb? By having such a great combination the consumer behaviour is easier to adopt. Typically, most people nowadays manage their music through their smart phones so we just added light as a function.
IoT Now: What unmet consumer need prompted Sengled to launch its first app-controlled lighting product?
JP: We believe that simplicity in style is a big need. Fewer gadgets on the living room table – wouldn’t that be nice? Same for the ceiling. How awfully messy are ceilings? Cables, lights, sometimes aircons, loudspeakers, videocameras, etc. Why not have two in one?
IoT Now: Which product was it and when was it launched? Has it been successful?
JP: We kicked off with Pulse and Boost in the US and Europe. Both the press and consumers were amazed about the idea of a wireless JBL loudspeaker within a lightbulb or a Wi-Fi repeater integrated into a lightbulb.
The sales numbers were reflecting the readiness for this new category. Additionally, the feedback for the software and functionality has helped us to develop our product range. Now we are offering different versions such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Downlights and more are coming soon. It was very successful and now we have a large range of lighting products whilst still continuing to explore more opportunities. Our team is growing, we are opening more countries and we are expanding.
IoT Now: How much of Sengled’s lighting product range is internet-connected?
JP: We have three different product ranges – Smart lighting, general lighting, and professional lighting and concept – so I will now refer to the smart lighting range. Here we have four products: Boost (making a Wi-Fi repeater), Flex – for music/Wi-Fi from cloud and Spotify for example, Element lightbulb for Zigbee and smarthomes, and Snap, an IP Wi-Fi camera through cloud.
So depending on how you mean “internet connected” – probably I might be able to say – somehow all ….in the final usage.
IoT Now: What advantages do smart lighting products bring to consumers? We have seen lighting products from you that support Security, Energy control, Baby care, Wi-Fi boosting, etc. Which will succeed first?
JP: The most sold product are still the music products – as they are so easy to use. However, we strongly believe that SNAP will find its path very soon – we are just launching that to consumers.
IoT Now: With WiFi-boosting bulbs retailing for UK£39.99, what is the expected lifespan of the bulb? What is the cost in Europe (€) and the US ($)?
JP: We sell boost between €49.00 and €59.99 (depending on the product specs). The product lifecycle is quite long as the issue of Wi-Fi coverage will always remain. 100% coverage is still ambitious to achieve.
IoT Now: What other IoT-enabled services is Sengled working on now?
JP: We believe that open source and open API will be very important to ensure access for our products to other products and vice versa.
We are already working on one unified app with open interfaces to other systems. As it is very early at this stage, unfortunately I cannot reveal much more on that right now. Hopefully, I will be able to talk about this before the end of the year.
The author of this article is Jeremy Cowan, editorial director of IoT Now & VanillaPlus. He was talking to Jutta Peinze, marketing director Europe, Sengled
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