About this project
Update: We have received some great press since launching! Please check out what people are saying and please pass it along as we go into the final stretch!
- "If you like the idea of advanced lighting that doesn't require an advanced appreciation of the user manual to understand, now's a good time to click the source link and make it happen." - Engadget
- “… the Luminode is a platform for innovation that has the potential to enable a world of opportunity on its own…” - Internet of Things Works
- "Home Automation is Getting Smarter!" - Home Alarm Systems
At Think Automatic we believe that smart home technology should be cost effective to install, simple to configure, and seamless to use. We plan to unlock this future through our computerized lighting controls and software that learns what you like.
The beauty of our Luminode Wall Switches isn’t just that they look, act, and feel like a familiar light switch. They monitor electricity usage and help save energy. They communicate wirelessly using a simple protocol making them easy to integrate with our back end learning system which connects with other automation panels, AV equipment, smart phones, or even your own system if that’s your thing.
How it works
Each Luminode contains a microprocessor with built-in radio enabling them to talk to each other and/or a computer. They understand commands to turn on or off or go to specific levels of brightness. The LED on the front faceplace is controlled in a similar way allowing them to show any desired color.
The Luminodes send out event messages to report when one has been tapped or been set to a specific level through a press and hold. A backend system, such as our learning software, can receive these event messages to trigger other actions.
For larger installations the Luminodes form what is called a mesh network. If one or more Luminodes are out of range of a computer controller or other Luminodes, they will relay messages to each other to improve range. In addition the Luminodes can be queried to report their current state including electricity consumption.
What it does
The Luminode enables a cohesive and easy to use lighting control system that elegantly integrates with other systems. Each Luminode acts as part of a coordinated team that not only anticipates what you want them to do but they also manage themselves. For instance by turning off when the system senses that they are not in use, while also remembering how you had your lights set for when you return.
When integrated with a backend system, such as our data driven learning software, the Luminode enhances remote monitoring and management capabilities over the Internet. It becomes possible to tell when a light bulb has burned out, or if there is unexpected activity, which has applications for not only home owners but also apartment, hotel, and vacation rental managers.
In addition we have built the Luminode with a reliable over the air firmware upgrade path making it simple and painless to deploy improvements down the road to the code that makes them work.
The Luminode simplifies how homes are wired eliminating the need for 3 way and 4 way wiring. For retrofit those wires can be abandoned. To illustrate this we created this animation.
Plays well with others
Although at Think Automatic we don’t expect to be able to provide every component of an automated lifestyle, we do expect to help every component, not just the Luminode, to work together. We believe that partnerships and cooperation hold the key to success not just between system components, but also between the people and companies that build and use the systems. We believe we have something to offer everyone from hobbyists to professional system integrators to other product manufacturers.
The Luminodes speak wirelessly with packets of standard XML (extensible markup language), making them easier to integrate with other systems than other products that often have esoteric communication protocols. XML is a very common data interchange format used in computers all over the Internet that is both human and computer readable.
We welcome the opportunity to work with other people and companies to integrate with each other’s systems which with our system just involves creating a simple software driver that translates between other, often proprietary, protocols and XML. We already integrate with GE’s NetworX security panel, the Stargate automation panel, and Insteon. Although we work with these products without hardware modification, there are advantages to be gained from adding basic wireless control and query capabilities to certain devices such as audio and video equipment. We don’t pretend to know how to design such audio and video equipment, but we will gladly work with people and companies that do in order to help get the right features into more products.
With your help
This is and has been a long term project that is now ripe for success. Development of the learning software began over six years ago, with Luminode development beginning almost four years ago. Although these developments have spanned years we are very proud of what we have accomplished and all with a small budget too.
With your help we can finish what we have started. With your Kickstarter contributions we can finish FCC and UL testing, tooling, and begin manufacturing in quantity.
Thank you for your support!
There is no limit.
A puck (an outlet based device) and simple RF remote control that exemplifies our mission of uncomplicated controls and letting the system learn and automatically adapt to your lifestyle.
The load that each Luminode can control will be up to 600 watts (that of a typical dimmer switch). The Luminode runs on a Freescale MC13224 processor and Cypress CY8C27243 PSoC. It uses a 2.4 GHz radio and Freescale's SMAC wireless network protocol. Developers use standard XML for communication messages.
That is a great question! We tried very hard to integrate the Insteon SwitchLinc Dimmer with our learning system before we developed the Luminode. Although it does work with our learning system, the SwitchLinc Dimmer has two design issues that prevent it from providing the same satisfying user experience and benefits that the Luminode does.
1)When a SwitchLinc Dimmer is physically activated at the switch it both reports a message that the switch has been activated and it also changes its own state such as turning the light on that it is connected to. This causes problems when trying to use a SwitchLinc as a dynamic scene selection device since the SwitchLinc takes action that often conflicts with what a controller wants it to do, producing a clumsy and confusing user experience.
2)The Insteon protocol that the SwitchLinc is based on supports individual and group broadcast messages. The group broadcast messages are not well suited for sophisticated dynamic scene creation and selection. And the individual messages involve enough latency that dynamic scene selection by the system adds to the clumsy and confusing user experience stemming from the previous issue.
Not at the present time as certifications vary but we are definitely looking into it.
One year warranty- replacement.
The money collected from the rewards will be used primarily for a manufacturing run of Luminodes, FCC and UL listing is already underway and some funds will go to help defray those costs.
Everything you need to get the basic functionality of the Luminodes is the switches themselves. To get advanced features and to integrate with other systems (including our learning software) a small USB device is required.
Simply install or replace the light switches in your home with the Luminode which will fit in a standard switch box (the Luminodes do require a neutral wire which may not be installed in some older homes, so check that first before retrofitting).
Once installed the Luminodes can be configured by simply triple-clicking each device to put it into linking mode and another click links them - it's that easy. Scenes can be set up by simply adjusting your levels with a press and hold on the switch (as many basic dimmers work) once the scene is created it can be accessed by all the linked Luminodes.
The Luminodes work with most dimmable compact fluorescents, but they are not designed to work with standard fluorescents.
Yes. The basic version of the learning software will be included for free. Additional network services such as text notifications and web access will eventually have a nominal subscription fee.
No. This would not be up to code and could create a fire hazard. Before retrofitting be sure to check whether you have a neutral connection available. If building or remodeling be sure that a neutral (white) wire is run to all Luminode locations.
The security system we have so far integrated with is the NetworX NX-8. We plan to try to support as many security systems we can. But for now with our limited resources we are focused on Finishing the Luminode and solidifying the learning system.
I already have Z-Wave, Insteon, or other automated switches installed. Can Luminodes be integrated with these other lighting controls?
Yes. The wireless protocols are different, however they can co-exist and be integrated by connecting the Luminode dongle to the same machine that talks to the other switches. We already have developed Insteon drivers to translate their protocol to XML so that their devices work with our leaning software. We intend to do the same for as many other systems and protocols as we can.
We have not yet attempted to integrate with Crestron systems. Some of their systems do have USB ports but I do not know what sort of virtual com port driver support they have nor how programmable their control panels are. It may be possible through their D3 Pro software, but we have yet to look into it in any real depth. When we do integrate with Crestron I anticipate that we will take the approach of feeding their stream of data from their hardware in and out of our back end learning system rather than integrating Luminode support directly into their hardware.
Does the USB dongle just present as a usb serial port and you read and write XML from/to it to receive info and send commands to the switches?
Exactly! It shows up as a virtual serial port. One of our goals is to play as nicely as we can with other technologies even if they don't work quite the way I'd like to see them behave, like with Z-Wave or Insteon. The dongle uses an FT232R FTDI chip has drivers for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. The dongle firmware parses the XML it receives on the usb/serial port and routes commands appropriately.
Have you tried using the switches with dimmable LED bulbs? Specifically the Philips Ambient LED bulbs. Any problems?
Yes indeed! Performance varies from bulb to bulb, but the Philips Ambient LED is one that works really well! Getting really low light can be a little tricky. For example sometimes you need to dim down to a low level from a higher level rather than up to a low level from off. All things considered, pretty minor. At some point I may try to work around even that with a firmware update.
Can the switches operate in a mode where touches are reported to the usb dongle, but do not affect the directly connected lights?
Big resounding yes! This is *the* key feature missing from other products that made integration with my learning system awkward, and ultimately led me to do my own.
The beauty of our learning system is that it does what is sometimes referred to as sensor fusion. So the example in the video where the system knows whether you're on the couch involves a simple contact sensor in the couch connected to a NetworX security panel. In addition, the back end system can either learn what you want it to do based on actions that tend to happen close to each other in both time and location, or behaviors can be hard coded like most other systems.
So getting back to the example in the video. The way that works is that the back end system is configured to know that there is a contact sensor in the couch. It knows that the DVR or other video device as well as Luminodes are all in the same room. After observing manual behaviors such as pausing a movie, getting up off the couch, and adjusting the lights from a Luminode switch, the system begins to recognize that these actions can be "clustered".
So then the system will begin actuating multiple actions in the "cluster" when one of those actions happens. In that way the system can know to pause what you're watching and adjust the lights based on getting up from the couch if that is what you normally do. So in that way, all the devices that generate events become a type of sensor. So not only does the couch sensor function as a sensor, but also the Luminodes and the DVR.
Although the Luminodes can communicate with Linux, Windows, and Mac OS machines, our back end learning software will run on a lightweight Linux machine.
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