The Spark Socket can do for the lights in your home what apps have done for smartphones, says Spark Socket founder Zach Supalla in a video on the project’s Kickstarter page.
Spark Socket is a small Wi-Fi device that screws onto any standard dimmable light bulb and lets you control the light from your smartphone. It fits between the light bulb and light fixture.
Spark Socket offers a lot of uses for the average consumer — the ability to wake yourself up in the morning by programming your lights to turn on, or having your lights turn on and off when you’re on vacation to make it look like you’re home. You can also program your lights to dim depending on the weather. But where the product really shines is its usefulness for people who are hearing impaired.
Supalla’s father is hearing impaired and uses lights to communicate. For instance, a hearing impaired person might have a light in his home that flashes when the doorbell rings. Being able to have Wi-Fi-connected lights could be a real game changer for the deaf community. The Spark Socket could be used to make the lights flash when the person is receiving a text message or to alert them to something else that needs their attention.
The company, Spark Devices, is raising funds to bring the product to market using Kickstarter. So far, it has raised more than $75,000 of its $250,000 goal with 15 days remaining before the Kickstarter funding drive closes. The page indicates the socket will be shipped next summer in July 2013.
Set up is simple: all you need is a Wi-Fi router and a few minutes to screw in the device and connect it to your iPhone or Android smartphone or home computer. You control the lights using the company’s native mobile apps. And if the Internet goes down, light switches will still work.
Spark Device’s software platform for the Spark Socket is open, meaning the company welcomes developer’s ideas on how to make the device even more useful to consumers. The company is also open to suggestions from consumers regarding other ways to use the device.
This isn’t the first Wi-Fi connected light bulb — just the first to be developed with the hearing impaired in mind. Similar products have been launched in the past with a stronger focus on the entertainment and convenience aspect of such an invention. In September, an actual light bulb called LIFX had Wi-Fi built in and could be controlled through an iOS or Android app. The bulb was said to be able to last for 25 years. Another lightbulb called Insteon is already on the market. It costs $29.99 and can be operated remotely from your smartphone.
How could Wi-Fi enabled lightbulbs make your life easier or more convenient? Tell us in the comments.
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