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Qualcomm and LIFX plot to flood the market with smart LED bulbs

Smart lights like Philips’s colourful Hue aren’t that widespread in the market right now but Qualcomm and LIFX plan to change all that. 

A new partnership between chip maker Qualcomm and smart bulb makers LIFX will work to set standards for established manufacturers to make bulbs that’ll work with a wide range of smart home systems. 

The LCM (Lighting Connectivity Module) chip is a small component that lets existing light bulb makers retrofit their current LED bulbs into smart, WiFi-connected ones. 

One company, Havells Sylvania, has already got on board and if others follow suit, smart bulbs could become the norm. 

Speaking at CES 2015, Edward Lees, LED lamps strategic business unit manager for Havells Sylvania EMEA said: “We are pairing the networking expertise provided by Qualcomm Atheros and LIFX with our nearly-century-long tradition in lighting. By leveraging the Lighting Connectivity Module and the AllJoyn Lighting Service Framework, we can quickly enable a wide range of products in our lighting portfolio to become connected.”

Open source software means that the bulbs can work with other devices on Qualcomm’s AllJoyn platform

In plain English, this means that smart home appliances like smoke detectors, smart locks and security cameras and even coffee makers could be configured to make LCM-enabled lights turn on and flash out of the box.

To be fair you can do this now with a wide range of systems thanks to IFTTT (If This Then That) but interoperability out of the box means control of smart lights is thrown open to virtually everything. 

The project will work both ways too; Qualcomm and LIFX are inviting hardware makers such as D-Link, a company perhaps better known for their routers, to the party to ensure that their products work with LCM-enhanced bulbs. Qualcomm and LIFX have also developed a design standard for future smart bulbs that it’s making available to the wider industry. 

Marc Alexander, chief technology officer, LIFX added: “Interoperability between our lighting and many other products provides consumers with rich user experiences and helps grow the overall ecosystem. 

“By integrating low power WiFi connectivity into lighting solutions and leveraging the AllJoyn framework, we are making it easy for consumers to make their homes connected and smart.”

As well as letting bulb makers easily convert their LED bulb ranges into smart lights, garage enthusiasts will also be able to shell out for LCM chips, if they want to have a go at converting their existing LED bulbs. 

Qualcomm says that the LCM modules and bulb designs are available now, but there’s no mention of price and it’s currently unclear how anyone fancying a tinker will be able to get hold of a module. 


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