If you want to test the waters of the smart home appliance, the easiest, cheapest way to start is with smart lighting.
Internet of Things, smart homes, smart cities, smart cars — all of these have moved beyond buzzwords to reality. You can talk to appliances at home and they will respond to your wish and command. Your fan will switch off, when your air conditioner turns on. Your air purifier will switch on, when your car enters the parking bay. All of this can be masterminded by the smallest of devices — your smart phone. If the hand phone had a bio on Tinder, it would say: "Here for hook-ups only". By syncing with a wide range of networks and protocols, the smart phone is set to be the only remote control you would need to fuel your connected lifestyle.
5G — the fifth iteration of mobile networks — is all set to offer data speeds, 2x to 5x faster than anything we experience today. In India we can expect to be offered 5G, sometime towards second half, next year. This means more connected devices through the many options on your smart phone such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cellular and Near Field Communication. But why wait? Even at current 4G LTE speeds, the connected home is within our reach. 5G will only make it smoother, zippier.
Amazon Echo and Google Home compete to make their smart speaker the central hub of your connected home — one with the Alexa voice assistant, the other with Google Voice. But many might find their smart phone a more meaningful interface — let's face it, not all want to loudly talk their commands. If you want to test the waters of the smart home appliance, the easiest, cheapest way to start is with smart lighting.
Philips has been something of a pioneer with Philips Hue, its smart connected lighting range. This personal wireless lighting system lets you create the ideal light settings at home, using a smartphone. You can choose the perfect colour, depending on your mood. Or you can select one of four preset light settings – read, relax, energize and concentrate.
The system also synchronizes seamlessly with music, movies and games. Philips offers a Hue starter kit for Rs 11,700 which includes three bulbs and the Hue Bridge software that can control up to 50 bulbs. If you already have an Amazon Echo Plus speaker, you can just buy the bulbs separately.
The Pune-headquartered Syska recently "smartened" its range of LED lamps after partnering with a global IoT player Tuya Smart. Syska smart bulbs now compete with Philips, Wipro and other with a range of innovative products which allow you to operate parts of your home lighting even while you are away from home... or use a voice assistant to change colours or switch the lights off.
The Syska Sonic LED bulb doubles as a speaker and the Syska smart table lamp which we reviewed on this page, can be synced with Alexa, using voice command to choose from three different colour temperatures – Warm White, Day Light, and Cool White — as well as 3 stages of brightness.
Perhaps the biggest difference smart lamps make, is in the way they smoothly dim the light or change the same lamp from white light to a warm yellow, with a touch of a phone app or a spoken command. That alone, makes these clever lights worth the asking price of around Rs 800 – Rs 1,000.