Update for 2019: They’re here! Now available in both the US and Europe. Phillips hue bridge required.
These are “self powered” zigbee green energy switches which don’t need batteries: they are powered by the kinetic energy that occurs when you press the switch. If you’re familiar with the Phillips hue “Tap,” this is the same technology.
In this case, though, Phillips is not going to make the switches themselves. Instead they have chosen partner companies in the different regions that already make devices using this technology. Among others, Illumra in the US and Busch-Jaeger in the EU.
These are the wall switches that people have been asking for to go with smart bulbs: they’ll fit in the space of a regular wall switch, or could just be Velcro to the wall anywhere. They will look like a conventional switch. ( for those interested, they will be HomeKit compatible as long as you are using the Hue bridge)
We’ll have to wait to see the exact details and how integration might work with smartthings, but this is a very exciting announcement:
The partner companies already made the switches. The only thing that’s new will be the hue bridge working with them, and it already works with this technology for their own tap switch, which is probably why they did meet their timeline.
US example. The initial release in January 2019 is just under $50 per switch, and they can be configured as either a two button switch which looks just like a conventional rocker, or a 4 button switch which looks like 2 skinny rockers side-by-side. The manufacturer site is offering them in several different colors including almond and black. Amazon now has all seven colors. If you use the single rocker cover, it’s definitely an expensive switch, but some people will still want it. If you use the double rocker, it counts as two very intuitive switches, so I think the price is not that bad if you have a good place to put it.