Startup Stack Lighting has unveiled what it calls a truly smart light bulb, the Alba—instead of being controllable via smart apps, the bulb uses environmental factors and proximity detection to customize interior lighting automatically.
The idea is the brainchild of CEO Neil Joseph, formerly of Tesla, and other engineers on his team. The idea, they say, is to provide automated lighting control in the home and at work that simulates to some extent the natural outdoor environment. In the morning, for example, light from the sun is soft as it creeps over the horizon—it becomes less soft as the morning wears on and eventually grows bright and at times harsh. Conversely, in the evening, the light outside grows soft again as the sun begins to set, before going dark altogether. That's important, the team at Stack claims, because it forms the basis of our circadian rhythm. We are naturally programmed to wake slowly, sharpen as we go, then slowly work our way back to a comfortable sleep. Conventional lighting systems don't offer that, they add, even other smart light systems, because they need to be constantly monitored and adjusted. Plus, they don't allow for changes to the softness of the light that is emitted. The team says that the Alba is different because it does change brightness and harshness levels, and because it does so automatically based on the unique behavior patterns of the people that live or work there. And because it also has motion sensing it can automatically turn off lights that are not in use, cutting electricity bills.
The lighting system doesn't come cheap however, in addition to the bulbs, homeowners must install a hub—two bulbs and a hub cost $150, and there's an additional $20 charge for proximity detection. It does come with convenience though. Installing an Alba in every light socket in the house would mean homeowners could remove switches. Lights would come on as people enter rooms, and shut off after they leave, and the home would be filled with soft light when it's time to get out of bed, and slowly go back to soft light as bedtime approaches. It's an interesting idea, like something from an old science fiction novel finally coming to fruition. Stack says that soon they will be selling their lights to businesses as well, hoping to replace the expensive energy saving systems currently in place.