Silicon Valley lighting startup Stack has unveiled an energy-saving LED bulb for connected home and office environments that, in a refreshing (or perhaps entirely unsettling) twist, also operates autonomously — that is, no frequent futzing around on a smartphone is required on the user’s part.
Billed as the world’s first responsive bulb, Alba is outfitted with a slew of sensors (light, motion, occupancy) that help it get to know you and your unique lighting habits. And we’re not just talking about its ability to switch on the moment you walk in the front door after a long day at work. Aptly described by Gigaom as the big-brained offspring resulting from the unholy union of a Philips Lux LED bulb and the Nest Learning Thermostat, Alba is a highly intuitive little illuminator that makes your comfort, health and overall wellbeing a top priority. (And your monthly electric bill, of course.)
When your alarm goes off in the morning and you begin to rustle and groan, the Alba will gently kick into action with a soothing yet stimulating blue light that’s not entirely too harsh but also won’t lull you back into a slumber. Once you leave your boudoir for the day, the Alba will automatically turn itself off — again, no grabbing for the light switch substitute known as your smartphone required — until you return for the evening when it was emit a gentle glow that gradually dims until you fall fast asleep.
In a daytime office environment or bustling domestic scenario, Alba emits a productivity-boosting light that’s heavy on the blue color wavelength to keep you awake, alert and semi-enthusiastic. At the end of the day, that blue-tinged hue gradually fades away and is replaced with a warmer light that’s more relaxing — your visual queue to pack it in and head home. Or, if you’re already home, it means it’s time to take a deep breath, pour yourself a glass of wine and unwind.
During Alba’s official launch at last week’s TechCrunch Disrupt SF where it was an audience favorite, founder Neil Joseph had plenty to say about the health benefits of the bulb:
What’s been interesting through this discovery process is learning how light really impacts people’s health. There’s been a lot of technology… that tries to measure how you sleep. There are all the wearable devices that try to measure that. And the thing is… what do you do about that once you know that you aren’t sleeping well? For your circadian rhythm, one of the biggest influencers on that is light.
If you’re able to tune the lights — so let’s say, saying what time you’d ideally like to go to bed and wake up, and have the right tone of light and amount, it will definitely help readjust your body and really maximize your energy focus and overall health. So that’s one of the big things that we’re doing that will be in our app. That’s actually the biggest thing that we see people utilizing our app for; is just simply saying I want to try to go to bed by 11.30pm and I want to wake up at 7am. So as you get closer to the evening the lights automatically start dimming down and they’re a warmer hue and your body will naturally respond to that, and start to relax.
In addition to its prowess in the wellness department, what’s perhaps most impressive about Alba is its money-saving potential. Given that the bulb adjusts both its color and temperature in response to ambient light, it boasts energy savings of between 60 to 80 percent compared to LED bulbs that might boast a lot of nifty features but that can’t tell the difference between night and day.
As Joseph mentions, Alba isn’t completely app-free. Users will need to access an app for initial set-up and tweaks as they see fit; but in terms of day-to-day usage, Alba is sets itself apart from the connected bulb pack by being a largely self-reliant, no-app-required affair.
Alas, the price tag attached to Alba is a rather hefty one: A pre-order for two bulbs and a Zigbee hub will set you back $150. Additional bulbs are $60 buck a pop. And another caveat: For now, Alba is only available as a BR-30 downlight bulb geared for recessed fixtures. In the future, however, Stack plans to expand to other formats including standard A19 bulbs, PAR38 bulbs for spotlights, and on.
LED nation: Any thoughts about this new entry in the increasingly crowded smart LED market?
Via [TechCrunch] via [Gizmodo]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.