For the longest time, Philips Hue has enjoyed a practically uncontested spot as the king of of Smart Bulb Mountain — but that’s starting to change. In the past year or so, a number of competitors have sprung up and announced color-changing smart bulbs of their own.
The latest entrant into this burgeoning category comes from Texas-based startup Ilumi. After running hugely successful campaigns on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo back in November of 2013, the company is finally ready to ship the first production models to buyers.
In terms of specs, the bulbs are slightly different from Hue. Rather than connecting to your home WiFi network, Ilumi bulbs rely on Bluetooth Low Energy to communicate with your smartphone. This means that, unlike Hue, you don’t need to purchase and install a network hub to use them. Just screw the bulbs (which come in either A21 or PAR30 styles) into a socket, pair them with your phone, and you’re ready to go. Once installed, they will create a mesh network wherein each bulb acts as a node that can send and receive a signal. Because of this, Ilumi bulbs can relay information to their neighbors, and don’t need to be placed within range of a router/hub to work.
For the most part, Ilumi bulbs are almost exactly like the Lumen from Tabu, but they do have one big feature you can’t get anywhere else. Ilumi bulbs are also equipped with a tiny bit of flash memory, so they can remember settings and color presets that you program into them even if a switch gets flipped off or a lamp comes unplugged.
The bulbs definitely bring some cool features to the table, but Ilumi faces some stiff competition moving forward. If it’s going to stand toe-to-toe with well-established companies like Philips and LIFX, it’ll need to expand compatibility and integrate with other apps, services, and devices.
Find out more here.