Android Central

A fresh Kickstarter project is aiming to provide smartphone-friendly home lighting through a socket accessory.  The Wi-Fi-enabled Spark goes right into normal light sockets, then your light bulb goes into the Spark. Once that's done, users will be able to set flashing rules for notifications, fade-in for alarms, and otherwise remotely control your home lighting. 

Spark isn't alone in trying to bring home lighting to Android, though. Lifx recently wrapped up funding for their smart light bulb, which includes a wide range of color options and the same degree of programmability. Of course, when a Lifx Bulb burns out, you're out $70, while Spark seems like it will weather the test of time a little bit better, plus there are APIs available for developers to plug their apps into Spark. My only worry is that the added bulk in the socket might not be practical for all lamps. 

Spark is only a few days into its Kickstarter campaign and still has a ways to go to meet its $250,000 goal, though they've already sold out of the early bird special. You can still back them and preorder on for $59, though. Any takers? Would you rather Spark or Lifx? Are there other solid smart home lighting solutions out there?

 

Reader comments

Spark socket to turn your phone into a light switch and make bulbs app-friendly

23 Comments

Yup, a great idea and a potentially great product which will fail because of an absurdly high price. I understand that there's a fair bit of technology involved, but at the end of the day, it's a light dimmer for Pete sake.

The video was cool, but the segment that showed the hip designer talking about the thought behind it made me think what was spent on his services. I get the value of design, but again, we're talking about a light dimmer that ends up totally hidden between the bulb and socket. Hip design and soft touch materials all add to the cost while providing close to zero value and contribute to a prohibitively high price.

It is expensive, but bound to get cheaper.

X10 systems have this, but the problem with them is that you need a computer somewhere to run an x10 system. There are Android apps for X10. (I believe X10 uses signals on the house power circuit itself, and does not require wifi).

This would be nice if there were way to address this socket over TCP/IP from anywhere, rather than just your local wifi.

I don't ONLY (or even primarily) see this as for notifications for the deaf, but mostly for managing your home lights remotely.

For that you need firewall piercing gateway for remote access, which usually amounts to a server somewhere and a utility running on a PC somewhere in your house. (Think Google Cloud Print).

The Verge had a story about Google@Home, which is a quiet program to develop exactly this kind of gateway. There are other Android systems available as well.

This device may be too little too late, but it looks promising as a building block.

Not worth it. I have a ton of X10 stuff. You can install at the switch, or in the light socket (socket rocket). I control it all with X10 Commander on my phone. You just have to have an x10 module plugged into a wall outlet somewhere. Works great, and X10 devices are cheap! Only a few bucks.

As a deaf person, this idea is very interesting! And I like that they had a captioned video. (hint hint hint for all of Mobile Nations!!!) I do hope they can lower the price tag though.

I was thinking the same thing. My Grandmother is deaf and this would help her quite a bit. I know what I am getting her for Christmas now.

I was thinking the same thing. My Grandmother is deaf and this would help her quite a bit. I know what I am getting her for Christmas now.

Good point. I never stopped to think of how this might help the hearing impaired. I do agree that $60 is a bit steep though! This may be a good idea after all!

They should add a receptacle version for lamps where this won't fit. And for $60 it better have a lifetime warranty.

i have to admin i thought it was a dumb idea but this video has convince me that its a cool idea but not for me as of this point in my life.

Note that the LIFX bulbs were actually $50 when you bought at least 4 of them (cause what good is only one?). Yah, the LIFX bulb would eventually die, but they were claiming a 25 or 30 year lifespan (since they're LEDs). It's an interesting idea, but I think the LIFX bulbs would fit more sockets and provide more features (LED bulb, multi-colored) for less money.

I would rather have something incorporated into the switch rather than the socket. The light in my living room has 3 bulbs. I'm not paying $180 to make this work in my living room. Even at half the price it would still be more than i would want to spend. The only problem with a switch is a lot of people would not know how to install.

I ordered 4 LIFX bulbs for $196. Spark is $60 plus the bulb. Spark sockets seem overpriced when I compare it to the LIFX bulb which was $70 for one but can do much more. Sure, they'll eventually die but they claim at least 25 years of life.

You can buy one of those usb sticks computers like arduino for $23 or a usb wifi adapter for $10. You shouldn't pay more that that for a light bulb wifi adapter and controller since it doesn't take rocket science to control a bulb, and only a few commands like on, off, status and such. Who's going to pay more than $10 or $20 for an accessory like that?

I leave for work when it's dark and come home from work when it's dark. I would love one of these on my porch.

My love is only worth about $10 though.

yawn....ive had this for a while. Its out now, it's got a 30 dollar LED controllable lightbulb, can control many more things, and its called Insteon. Granted you have to buy a 90 buck starter kit but I think it's much more worth it.

How many simultaneous connections can your wifi router handle? If you have a phone, tablet, and laptop, that's 3. Do you have a wife/kids/roommate with wifi devices? How about that Xbox360 or PS3? Could be limited to 64, could be 16.

Then again, it would be a perfect excuse to buy a new router.