App-controlled LIFX bulbs reinvent the humble household light

For years and years, the dimmer switch was about as fancy as it got for lightbulbs — but a team of designers is intending to change all that.

The LIFX lightbulb (pronounced “life ex”) is a Kickstarter project that seeks to “reinvent” the humble household light. Each LED bulb can be wirelessly connected to a smartphone app which allows a wide range of control over how the bulb works.

Each bulb screws into standard fittings, and links to the user’s smartphone or tablet over WiFi using a free app. Then the fun begins — apart from the basic dimmer settings, there are also colour and timing options — so, if you want, you can wake up gradually to a shade of white like morning sunlight, but give yourself a more claret-coloured sunset in the evening.

Each bulb has its own controls, too, so if (for example) you were to go on holiday they could be easily set up to turn off and on at regular intervals to make the house look occupied. The bulbs can even be synchronised up with music, which should make house parties a bit more interesting over the next few years (or, admittedly, annoying, if as many people who think they’re great DJs also think they can design a light show).

As of writing, design team LIFX Labs has already raised just shy of $300,000 (£185,000) — three times what they initially asked for. Each bulb is currently listed as costing a pricey $69 (£43), however, which is roughly ten times the cost of the average compact fluorescent bulb.

LED bulbs are more energy efficient than both standard incandescent bulbs and energy-efficient compact fluorescents — the LIFX team claims that their bulb only requires eight watts to produce 800 lumens, compared to 15 for a fluorescent or 60 for an incandescent. They can also handle a wider range of colours, giving off more “warmth” than current energy-efficient bulbs, which give out a bright white light that many dislike. Also, unlike fluorescents, LED lights don’t contain mercury, so the environmental problems caused by disposing of old bulbs is not as much of an issue either.

LIFX bulbs are also rated to last up to 40,000 hours, or 25 years, depending on usage, which compares well to the average 15,000 hour lifespan of compact fluorescents.


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