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Charged: Smart LEDs for the Home
From apps for mood lighting to bulbs that help you sleep, five bright ideas that are as innovative as they are illuminating
by Kat Herriman
on 27 June 2014

Bright ideas are coming from every design sector, as engineers, artists and scientists join industrial designers in creating the technologies and products that will define the future of light. Today, it's inherently progressive industries like LEDs where one can already begin to observe the next generation. From innovative lighting systems that leverage natural light in the daytime to smart bulbs that help soothe you to sleep, these five products are redefining the role of an everyday object and our relationship to energy.

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Drift Light by Saffron

The adult solution to plug-in night-lights, the Drift Light offers a more natural way to get some sleep by mimicking nature. Designed to simulate a sunset, the unique LED bulb can be set to fade to darkness over 37 minutes, offering the body a gradual shift that helps prepare the body to rest. Unlike most conventional bulbs, the Drift Light emits only a small percentage of blue light, which has been proven to disrupt melatonin production, the body’s natural sleep agent. Thoughtfully designed, the standard Edison base allows the high-efficiency bulb to be employed throughout the home in existing sockets without modification. Available for $29.

LIFX

There’s an app for everything: even mood lighting. LIFX is a smartphone-controlled bulb that puts an entire spectrum of light at your fingertips. Designed for residential and commercial applications, the high-efficiency lighting solution gives one the power to set the brightness and color remotely using a streamlined app that revolves around an intuitive color wheel. One of the biggest benefits of this system is the ability to create versatile energy saving cycles that sync up with your daily routines. With the simple touch of a button, one can set a gentle brightening program to accompany their morning routine or flip on the lights before walking in the room. With over 16 million colors to choose from, LIFX offers users the freedom to design and experiment with home lighting in an unprecedented away. Available for $99.

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Hue

We've been fans of Phillips LED smart bulb Hue for a while, and it's still one of the best solutions available. The system utilizes WiFi technology to create a versatile lighting system that offers intuitive presets. A playful approach to lighting, the app allows users to access an almost infinite spectrum of colors, which can be altered on command or preset to a scheduled program. One of the most exciting parts of this system is the built-in color match system, which enables users to upload an image and touch a tone that can then be projected. Other applications include a musical synchronizer, which enables one’s lights to pulse with the beat of a sound system or a smartphone. Available for $199.

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Solatube

Natural and LED light team together with Solatube’s revolutionary bulb. This smart system takes advantage of the natural light available during the daytime by capturing the sun’s rays and redirecting them through mirrored tubes, allowing daylight to illuminate even the lowest levels of a building. At dusk and dawn, the LED portion of the bulb is triggered and combined with the available natural light into a synthesized beam—and at night, the system seamlessly switches to a LED-only mode. Systems start at $399.

Samsung’s Smart Bulb

While Samsung's competitor Phillips beat them to a release, their soon-to-be released Smart Bulb is the first LED to leverage Bluetooth technology, enabling users to control their lights from all of their devices. Unlike Hue, the Smart Bulb offers limited color and brightness tenability, but does allow the user to dim and chose the coolness or warmness of the white light. The system offers the option to control up to 64 individual bulbs remotely, allowing users to implement the system throughout their home and group lights by room. Samsung says the Smart Bulb has a lifespan of about 15,000 hours, or 10 years. Price not yet announced.

Images courtesy of respective brands

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