Phillips Hue, LIFX, and more…

I talked about this in the Door Lock thread a bit, but it’s relevant here as well.  Whatever high tech solution is developed, a “low tech” is going to be needed as well.  Take LIFX, for instance.  A great product and should be really nice item if integrated into SmartThings.  However, it has two levels of on/off.

The bulb can be turned on and off within the bulb itself via the wireless app, but only if the lamp that it’s connected too is powered on.  If the lamp is turned off, it can’t be turned on via the smartapp.

The example I’m thinking of is a lamp or light in my living room.  I might turn it on or off with my phone, but if my son walks in, he’s going to want to turn it on or off at the location.   If I use a SmartOutlet to control the lamp, he can’t turn it on easily sitting at the light.  He’ll have to go and find his tablet or get on the computer to turn it on.  Very inefficient. If I’m using a LIFX, which the turns on or off at the bulb level, again you can’t turn it on locally if the app has it off.  And with both, it someone turns it off with the switch built into the lamp (because they don’t want to go three rooms over to the den to the computer, pull up the webpage, find the switch and then turn off the lamp in the living room), I can’t turn it on later with the smartapp.

Honestly I think the SmartButton is going to be one of the most critical things to making this SmartThings really work great through the whole house.

There is an existing solution to the problem - GE makes Z-Wave light switches already.

I’m planing on 2 of these for what I’ll need for my front lights and my living-room lights. I want the SmartThings system to be able to control those lights - but I want manual control as well. My hope is to place a presence sensor on my wife’s key chain so when she gets home from daycare with 2 kids - the schlage door lock will unlock for her, the outside lights will turn on, and the inside lights will turn on as well.

There is this product as well:

With 1 outlet always on and the other controlled by the z-wave… I think a little more limited than what I am looking for - and you can essentially do the same thing with a smart outlet (as you can “smart” one outlet and leave the other open) - but still cool.

LIFX (and Philips, for their Hue system) have said that the light can be controlled via the physical switch. So, if you’ve turned the light off via the smartphone app, you can turn it back on via the switch.

Presumably you’ll toggle the switch (off then on again) to change the state of the light. Toggle off and on to turn the light on, toggle off and on to turn it off again. The point being to leave the bulb powered on (though not necessarily lit) at the end of the interaction so that it can continue to receive instructions over the wireless link.

This means if your Internet/WiFi/smartphone/computer is down you can still turn your lights on and off in the wee hours of the night as you stumble around.

For SmartThings, you’ll want to control these bulbs via software over the wireless link, not via a SmartOutlet. The SmartOutlet will deprive the bulb of power and remove you ability to control from the smartphone or over the web if the SmartOutlet is turned off. SmartThings, though, should be able to send commands to the bulb to turn it on or off in exactly the same way as the smartphone app does. In fact, there may be multiple ways for SmartThings to do this - via the LIFX wifi gateway (same as the smartphone app), via the LIFX cloud service (out via the cloud service on the web, which then comes back in via the wifi gateway) and possibly even directly to the the individual bulbs themselves via the Zigbee interface.

S0, you should be able to control the lighting via the standard LIFX smartphone app, via the LIFX web interface, via SmartThings or via the physical light switch on the wall. The physical switch is limited to turning the light on or off; turning it on will presumably have a preset colour and brightness setting (whether this is user settable or is just full white brightness is unknown - LIFX haven’t revealed that level of detail yet). All the other options should be able to control colour, brightness and cycling via the LIFX script engine, etc.

This will, of course, rely upon people learning to toggle the light switch and not just flick it off when they leave the room. It will be interesting to see if people start installing momentary action light switches (and what the electrical standards say about that - a lighting circuit which can’t have power removed other than at the switchboard…). The other option, of course, is a combination of SmartThings motion sensors and either the time of day or the Ubi light sensor to intelligently turn lights on (if its dark) when people enter a room, and turn them off when the room appears unoccupied. Then people can forget about using the light switch altogether, unless there’s one of the aforementioned outages.


Thanks for the info guys…

Eric… great find.  Do we know for certain if those z-wave switches will work right out of the box?  If so, that will be a GREAT solution for a overhead lights.  Lamps would still be an issue, but…

Chuckles, if you’re right about the lamp switch toggling, that would be great.  The only one I did any real looking at was LIFX and I know they said the bulb was still controllable from the switch, but I guess I assumed that meant that you could turn it off just by flipping off the lamp switch.  Do we know for sure if it will work to turn the bulb on or off using a off/on action with the switch?  That would be great.  The other thing that would be necessary would be that the off/on action would “reset” the bulb to a default condition… ie, 90% brightness, white light.  If it only turn it off and on and stayed at the current setting and you had the bulb set to a dim-green hue, for instance, it would stink not being able to “reset” to a standard color and brightness.

chrisb - they have said we should have compatibility with z-wave and zigbee items that are currently on the shelf - that said - they are testing a bunch of existing products. They will hopefully provide us with a full list of tested items before we get our boxes. Hopefully!

The z-wave and zigbee is great, but those philips lights communicate through IP.  Will we have the ability to do that as well?  I know it will be on the network, but will it be able to send commands that way?

Holy crap I got lucky… just happened to look at the Lifx page and saw that someone backed out!  Got in for two bulbs.  Granted, I’d love to get 4 or more, but 2 is a start.  Yeah me!

Hey guys… just a FYI… 10 hours left on LiFX.  They are sold out, but I’ve seen a lot of pledge spots opening and closing.  If you want in on LiFX, keep checking back.  You might get lucky.  Since my earlier post of getting in for two bulbs, I was able to jump my pledge to 10 bulbs.  I wanted more than 2, but honestly 10 bulbs was making me more than a little nervous ($500!  Egads!).  But I kept checking and just lowered by pledge and reward to 4 bulbs.  A more affordable $200.  I can live with that. :slight_smile:

So, anyway, keep checking their kickstarter page to see if you can jump in.

@Formix (Post #239) - the hub for the Philips Hue communicates over your LAN using TCP/IP, but the hub and the bulbs communicate between themselves using Zigbee LightLink ( ZLL - ). The possibilities for control via SmartThings therefore include both communicating with the hub over TCP/IP, or directly to the lightbulbs over Zigbee (this would require SmartThings attaining ZLL certification and thus obtaining a ZLL master key). There’s also the possibility that Philips will expose a web service API to their existing web interface for Hue owners.

Philips have stated they’ll be releasing developer information (SDK, etc.- probably more targeted at smartphone/web app developers, etc.), but at the moment there only appears to be a small amount of information from third parties out there.

I know this sounds a bit clueless, but there is the ability for IP control output?  I haven"t seen that.