Of course you can already do that with several different home control systems and these are sold everywhere: on the Internet, department stores and many hardware stores. So what’s new here? Well, these bulbs that have their own wireless receivers built into the base and so … you can call your bulb. (Be careful what you call it.)
As they say these days: there’s an app for that. And it’s free and works with both Apple and Android phones. You can change the colors produced by the new bulbs and even make their light dance to the beat of selected music. We tried a couple of these new bulbs and though they don’t keep the beat very well, but there is some action — though nothing the boys in the band would recognize.
We started with the $60 “Ilumi” from ilumi.co. The most likely use for something like this is to change the color to suit the situation. Blue light is supposed to be good for waking up, for instance, and making you feel alert. Yellow or orange light is for mellow evenings. Green and purple are open to your own interpretation. You can also shake your phone to turn on a dim light for a gentle wake-up. (Might wake Joy up, not Bob.) Unfortunately, the Ilumi must be controlled by Bluetooth. It isn’t the kind you can control from outside the house.
Next up was the Philips Lux Starter Kit for $80. It came with two bulbs and a hub. You can keep adding bulbs at $20 each to your system and control them all from one phone app. The bulbs didn’t change color with the tap of an app, but we could turn them on and off and adjust the brightness level. So we left the lights off, drove several miles away, and tapped our app to turn on the lights so they’d be on when we got back. Sure enough, they were on.
Okay, so that’s a reasonable use. You come home, the hallway’s dark, Joy trips over a box, things could get serious. It may be cheaper to just leave the hall light on when you go out, but we’re talking high tech here; anybody could just leave the light on when they go out, that’s not going to impress anyone.
All these remote control bulbs are LEDs; that’s “Light Emitting Diodes.” The light is there, but different. They’re rated in lumens. A one-thousand lumens bulb is about as high as it goes unless you have some secret weapon, and is roughly equivalent to the old 75 watts. If you’re used to 100 watt bulbs or higher, it may not be enough. So you may be squinting, but you will save a pile on electricity. The bulbs last for 22 years.