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Enlightened: Redefining LED Light Bulbs as Sensors

Tom Stimac
Next Big Thing  |  August 09, 2017

I’m always asked, “What’s next for LED?” There’s a lot on the horizon for LED-based lighting products, and one of the technologies that intrigues me involves the use of different sensor technologies to make the house “smarter.” There are many different sensor technologies out there, but they mainly focus on a couple key areas:

Motion:

Motion sensors today can turn a light on or off when motion in a specified location is detected. LED-based lighting products that integrate motion sensors are newer and will provide dual functionality for a home user. However, adding the ability to connect multiple LED-based products together via Bluetooth unlocks unlimited possibilities in how to configure them to work and make your home smarter. For example, if you wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, you don’t have to groggily search for the light switch, the connected LED product will sense the motion and, based on the configuration you set up in a mobile app, the LED light will detect you’ve entered the bathroom and the lights turn on at a dimmer setting so that you aren’t blinded by full-on light.

Occupancy/Presence:

This type of sensor can sense the fact that there’s an individual or a cellphone in the room, triggering a light bulb to act in a certain way. This comes in handy when lights may be left on in a room and no one is in there. If occupancy/presence isn’t detected by the sensor, the lights will shut off.

Microwave, radar or ultrasonic sound:

These are older technologies that are now being repurposed for use in the home with the advancement in processing technologies. For example, this technology can be used to enhance the detection ability of current home security systems and, most notably, used in automotive applications like blind spot detection.

Using Sensors in Your Home

Using sensors with LED light bulbs can be really useful at your home in a variety of ways. The most common use of sensors is when you’re on vacation or away from your home. Lights might kick on when they sense motion in the room. At my house, I use them in a slightly different way.

My two young children have more energy than I think I’ve ever had. Sometimes, my wife and I will be doing things around the house, and I’ll think she’s watching them, and she thinks I’m watching them. What if the kids got out of the house? It could become a dangerous and scary situation. That’s why I hooked up sensors to different doors in my house so that when a door opens up, different lights go on and I can have an understanding of where in the house my kids are. It gives me peace of mind that my kids are safe.

A sensor can be incredibly small, but incredibly accurate. As the technology evolves, we’ll be able to make better products that are simple and useful.

If you have questions about sensors and how they can be used in your home, feel free to leave a comment.

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