It sounds futuristic, but it's very much now. There are a myriad of ways you can control your home's lighting and gadgetry without even having to be present. Here are four different options for making the lighting in your home just a little bit smarter.
Hue is one of the more versatile home smart-lighting systems out there. On top of being controlled by your phone or tablet, HUE lights can be set to pulse, flash and adjusted to 16 million different colours.
HUE works on iOS devices with iOS 4.3 or above. It also works on Android, but the website only specifies that it has been “tested” on Android 2.3 and upwards.
There are three different HUE lights available and they all just screw in to existing standard sockets. The connection node, called the ‘bridge’, is included in the starter pack along with three bulbs. The bridge plugs in to your modem and is controlled via WiFi. Up to 50 lights can be synced to a single bridge.
Lightwave RF offers a built-in system that can control both the lighting and heating of your entire home, among other devices like stoves, washing machines and even hair straighteners. You can’t switch up your lighting colours like you can with HUE, but you can set automated routines for how bright lights default to at certain hours and when your lights and gadgets turn on and off. You can even turn off appliances that you’ve accidentally left on, forever ending that nagging fear about whether or not you really did switch off the iron.
LightwaveRF isn’t simple to install and it’s only available in the US. It needs to be wired through your house by a specialised professional and quotes will vary. Still, if you have the patience and the spare bucks then you can set up your house to be a futuristic robot-run realm of relaxing ambiance.
Belkin’s WeMo home automation range is very easy to install. The system revolves around adaptors that go between the wall socket and a device. By naming each adaptor after the device it controls, you can switch your gadgets on and off remotely.
If you’re after something a bit more light-centric, there is a dedicated WeMo Light Switch option, which can replace your regular switches if installed by any professional electrician. There's a how-to on the website for you to check out if you're qualified.
WeMo Light Switches can be controlled from anywhere in the world (so long as you have an internet signal). They also allow you to set up schedules, and feature back-lighting to help you find them in the dark.
WeMo works with Android and iOS devices.
LG Smart Bulb
LG Smart Bulb is similar to the Philips HUE system. Each bulb is an individual unit that can be controlled by smartphones or tablets. The bulbs can be set to turn on and off on a timer which is handy for when you go away or even as a more-gentle alarm clock. For the socialite they can flash on and off in time with music when set to “play mode”. The hearing-impaired can even set the lights to flash on and off when their smartphone receives notifications.
LG’s bulbs are currently very new and only available in South Korea. If they’re a success we should start seeing them roll out to more countries over the coming months. Both Androids and iPhones are compatible, with versions 4.3 (Jelly Bean) and iOS 6.0 and above supported.