Google kicked of its annual Android developers’ conference with a keynote presentation that featured a new home-automation initiative called Android @ Home. That portion of the keynote included a demonstration of an Android phone controlling two prototype Lighting Science Group (LSG) LED lamps, and LSG pledged to deliver production versions of the solid-state-lighting (SSL) lamp by the end of the year.
David Henderson, chief development officer at LSG, said, “We look for this technology to revolutionize the home and commercial space for intelligent lighting systems, and LED lighting.”
The Android @ Home technology will actually go far beyond lighting with Google targeting control of all electrical devices in the home including appliances, HVAC systems, and entertainment products. It will also be compatible with the new Android music service announced at the conference.
The Android lighting demo included two table lamps equipped with the LSG prototype lamps and the Android phone was also configured to control two stage lights. A simple Android app provided a user interface for light control.
Dynamic interactive lighting
The second part of the demonstration was more interactive. The presenter played the game Quake on the Android device and the device concurrently controlled the stage lights. The demo proved the multitasking capability of the Android platform and suggested that an entertainment application will be able to dynamically control lighting in the future to enhance the viewer experience.
Google offered one other example of how Android devices might be useful in lighting control. You could set the alarm on your device, and have it gradually raise the light level in the room rather than ringing an alarm.
Google didn’t reveal the details of the wireless interconnect used during the keynote, just saying it was a low-cost technology. LSG’s Henderson said later that it is based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard for wireless personal area networks (WPAN).
The 802.15.4 standard is the basis for ZigBee wireless networks that we covered in a feature article last November. But ZigBee adds protocol layers on top of the 802.15.4 standard and the Android technology will apparently rely on a different protocol. According to Henderson, Android @ Home will rely on the 6LoWPAN (IPv6 over low-power WPAN) protocol designed to allow every-day devices such as thermostats and lights to connect to the Internet.
LSG can’t provide details such as pricing on its compatible lamps yet. But Henderson said they will likely launch with 40W and 60W equivalent lamps. When asked about the price premium attributable to the wireless support, he said they expect pricing to be generally the same as other LED retrofit lamps on the market.
LSG launches lamps on Amazon.com
LSG also launched some new lower-cost LED-based retrofit lamps recently that are being sold on Amazon.com and will be coming to Home Depot stores. Announced in conjunction with earth day, the 40W equivalent lamp is priced at $21.98. The lamps draws 8.5W and LSG said it could last as long as 23 years.
The company also plans a new 60W-equivalent A lamp, as well as BR, MR, and PAR retrofit lamps. All of the new products are targeted at affordability. The company asserts that the 40W lamp is half the price of GE’s Energy Smart A19 lamp. The 40W equivalent lamps looks very similar to the Android prototype lamp pictured.