Cree Smart Bulbs Controlled by iOS, Android Devices

The light bulb maker jumps into the IoT market with a light bulb that can be managed remotely through mobile devices and costs $15.

smart bulb

Light bulb maker Cree has created a smart bulb that not only connects to the Internet, but comes in at a price of $15.

Cree officials on Jan. 15 introduced the Connected Cree LED Bulb, a 60-watt bulb that can be controlled through an Apple iOS or Google Android device. Through the smartphones, users anywhere in the world can dim or brighten their lights, schedule the lights to go on or off at specific times. That is particularly important for added security when the user is away from the house.

The bulb is compatible with the Wink and ZigBee platforms, according to Cree officials. The connected bulb creates a simple user experience for consumers seeking device connectivity in their homes," Cree Chief Marketing Officer Betty Noonan said in a statement, adding that it offers the "combination of a superior LED light experience with multi-platform compatibility, all at an affordable price."

Cree's bulb joins the growing number of connected devices that make up the rapidly expanding Internet of things (IoT). Cisco Systems officials predict that the number of connected things—from smartphones, tablets and laptops to cars, industrial systems, health care devices, wearables and home appliances—will grow from 25 billion in 2014 to more than 50 billion by 2020.

Lighting is seen as a natural fit for the IoT. The AllSeen Alliance, an industry consortium that is developing an open framework based on the AllJoyn code to enable easier interoperability between connected devices, systems and sensors, in October established a connected lighting working group to create a standard for smart light bulbs to connect with other devices. Earlier this month, Qualcomm said it was working with smart-lighting technology vendor Lifx to create a connected-lighting platform and an LED bulb design based on the work by the AllSeen group.

"Connected lighting has the potential to be one of the most dramatic applications of the Internet of everything in homes and businesses," Marc Alexander, CTO at Lifx and chairman of AllSeen's Connected Lighting Working Group, said when the group was established.

The price is an important part of Cree's pitch for its connected bulb. There are other smart bulbs on the market, but some come with a hefty price. For example, KeeLight offers a WiFi-enabled, multi-color smart LED light bulb that can be controlled via a smart phone or tablet. However, the bulbs cost almost $150 each, according to its Website.

The Cree bulb costs $15, but doesn't come with multiple colors. It also requires the user to have a Wink- or ZigBee-certified hub, so there will be extra costs for those who will need to buy such an appliance. The 60-watt soft-white bulb delivers 815 lumens and offers up to 25,000 hours of life. (KeeLight officials say their bulbs will last twice as long.)

Cree officials also said the smart bulb is compatible with other hubs the company will support in the future as well as Apple's HomeKit platform. It will be available at Home Depot as well as in Cree stores and from the company online.