Lightbulbs get smarter with included Wi-Fi and speakers

LED lightbulbs with Wi-Fi extenders and speakers could speed Wi-Fi implementations.

smart home wi-fi bluetooth light bulbs internet of things

If your place is larger than an apartment, there's a good chance that you spend a bit of time, periodically, going around changing lightbulbs.

It's one of those things. Like cutting the grass and placing the garbage cans at the curb, it's the price you pay.

Replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs can go some of the way towards solving this onerous time-absorber. GE claims its screw-in LED light bulb replacements last 25 years, for example.

They cost a bit more, but they do save on work. You shouldn't have to change them as often—if at all.

Multifunction light bulbs

Well, one Chinese LED light bulb manufacturer reckons it has solved this, and a couple of other home issues too. It has a solution to the problem of expiring bulbs, Wi-Fi dead spots in the home, and also the issue of trailing wires for audio speakers—all within the light bulb.

Zhejiang-based Sengled has introduced an all-in-one LED light bulb with built-in wireless JBL by Harmon speakers (a premium speaker brand), and another with a Wi-Fi booster. They screw in to standard sockets just like a normal light bulb.

Wi-Fi repeater

The smart bulbs that we might be most interested in are the Sengled Boost LED bulbs with Wi-Fi repeater. In that case, each bulb acts as an 802.11b/g/n standard access point repeater at 2.4GHz. Maximum data rate is 300 Mbps.

The bulbs also supply between 470 and 1000 lumens of light depending on which of the three models you choose. A domestic table lamp light bulb will generally put out around 470 lumens.

Color temperature is 2700 or 3000K (Kelvin), depending on model. Both temperatures are close to the warm white found in incandescent lights. LEDs don't have to be daylight white.

As anyone familiar with the replacement of incandescent lighting with LED knows, there are two kinds of LED light bulbs: those that dim and those that don't. In this case, the bulb does dim, but dimming is controlled via a smartphone app, not a wall dimmer.

Pricing ranges from $49.99 to $59.99 depending on model. They can be purchased at the company's website.

Music from light bulbs

The second offering from Sengled is its LED bulbs with wireless speakers. Music is played via Bluetooth from the same smartphone that can adjust light.

Two versions are available. One, the Pulse Solo, is 59.99 and features dual three-watt speakers providing a stereo sound effect. Lighting in that case is at 550 lumens with a color temperature of 2700K.

The other version, called the Pulse, creates its stereo effect with two speakers in two light bulbs. Separation of stereo channels creates a better stereo effect. So the idea here is that you achieve that with two lights. A pair costs $169.99. Additional satellite bulbs are $79.99.

Workplace implementation

And while these lights are clearly pitched at the connected home and taste-makers in that market, the Wi-Fi booster version of the light bulb may well be a quick, down-and-dirty method for extending signal in workplaces with limited wall power outlets.

Or perhaps you could try them in places where a casual installation might get stolen. Rather than risking theft, or going through the hassle of hiding or affixing equipment to the wall with screws, just disguise the gear in a ceiling, table, or wall lamp and be done with it.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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