To make it even easier to build a connected light bulb, Qualcomm Atheros and startup LIFX have teamed up to create a Wi-Fi module and software that lets lighting manufacturers get a connected product on the shelves in no time. And if that weren’t enough, anyone can buy a reference design kit containing a connected A19 bulb (the typical lamp bulb) with the connected module and software) from Arrow Electronics, a distributor. Qualcomm will be showing off the module and reference designs in Las Vegas this week at CES.
The goal here is to make the Raspberry Pi of lighting, and see what digital dividends might accrue when people combine connectivity, LEDs and their brains to the concept of lamp bulbs. As someone who talks so much about lighting on her podcast that listeners complain, I’m excited about the possibilities. Qualcomm Atheros and LIFX are already working with established lighting manufacturers such as Havells Sylvania and home networking leaders such as D-Link to build smart lighting products.
Using the Wi-FI module and LIFX software means the light bulb won’t need a hub because instead of the lower-power ZigBee mesh standard, the light bulb will just be able to hop directly on the Wi-Fi network. The manufacturer will have a choice of using colorful lights or white lights, which will impact the overall price of the bulb. A Qualcomm spokesman was unable to offer any sense of price as that would be set by the end customer. Typical LED connected bulbs can run the gamut from $15 for the connected white Wink bulbs to $99 for the colorful LIFX bulbs.
It’s worth noting that the Qualcomm module and LIFX software will work with the new All Seen Alliance standard for lightbulbs which means it should work with other AllSeen Alliance member’s products. This means that future games from fellow member Microsoft running on the Xbox might be able to turn your lights red when you get killed or flick your on and off when your baby’s Sproutling monitor wants to let you know something is wrong.
The lighting module and LED bulb reference design are available now.