Not standing still...
It’s been a little while since our last update so we wanted to give you the rundown on what's been happening at LIFX HQ. We certainly haven't been standing still.
The big news is we’re about to sign on a major production partner and whilst we shouldn’t reveal exactly who this is just yet, it’s a major milestone for us and the LIFX project.
It’s awesome to think we could have 50x LIFX first production prototypes in our hands within 4-6 weeks. This will put us ahead of where we expected to be at this point in time.
To answer some questions/comments on the competition out there too: our thoughts are that choice in any consumer space is a good thing. It makes products better, drives the level of innovation for consumers and will bring out the best in everyone involved.
No doubt there will be other large hardware vendors working to produce first generation smartbulbs too. Your support will ensure that innovation and openness drive the next generation of products that find their way into our homes.
Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve been up to over the past couple of weeks:
- Master/Slave- be gone! Every LIFX bulb can now be a GATEWAY (power to the WiFi chips will be toggled as required). For clarity: there will now only be one type of LIFX bulb (WiFi chip in all).
- Settled into our new Melbourne workspace.
- Attended the Hong Kong International Lighting Fair.
- Found our production partner- exchanging legals now.
- Committed to a RGB+W LED head configuration for maximum color and warm white power options.
- Narrowed down microcontroller choices between Texas Instruments and ST Microelectronics chip sets - now working out best price, production and availability etc. before we make our final decision.
- On-going software development- building upon the original prototype and fleshing out the network messages and library APIs. Progress is going well.
- Mapped out the “LIFX Cloud” web gateway concept and meeting with developers next week to make this happen
- Started building a simulation application to make LIFX app dev easier (to be published of course).
- Received over 15,000 forms of registered interest on lifx.co for a second production run.
No more master vs slave bulb! Based on the cost estimates coming in, we’re confident enough to make the call that there will be a WiFi chip in every bulb. Obviously this makes for much a cleaner setup and more robust networking if the LIFX software can automatically nominate the best bulb (at any given time) to talk with your router. We’re thrilled to finally bed this down and remove the need for different physical bulbs, power-sucking hubs or any other single points of failure.
In terms of LED configuration- LIFX will feature a combination of powerful white LEDs with RGBs on the head. This gives a lot of flexibility in terms of providing bright light plus any combination of hue and intensity. 60w equivalent is the minimum working target for us to create a legitimate bulb replacement versus that of a fancy mood light. Via a spectrophotometer we can measure the direct color output of the final LIFX setup across the spectrum. This will allow us to produce software maps that accurately match selected colours on an iPhone screen, for example.
“LIFX Cloud” is an additional, free component of the platform we intend to roll out with launch. It’s essentially an optional web gateway to the LIFX mesh. Practically speaking it provides a dead simple way (no ip/port/firewall setup) to remotely control your bulbs (via apps or a web interface). It will also expose an authenticated REST API to the wider web for easy integration with the likes of ifttt.com, Pebble, SmartThings, Ubi, Ninja Blocks or any other internet-enabled service. We believe in this concept enough to dedicate an additional, full-time software engineer to LIFX Cloud between here and launch.
Note: LIFX Cloud is optional. You can still control your lights without the LIFX Cloud. LIFX Cloud simply allows you to connect the internet to your bulbs and benefit from all the goodies that come with that.
On the software development side, we’re working on the lightbulb firmware, along with the iOS and Android clients. A significant portion of the firmware is platform independent C/C++ code, including the messaging / scripting parser and execution engine. Our first preference for the operating system and networking stack is Contiki, which runs on both of the preferred microcontroller choices and has excellent support for 6LoWPAN (IPv6). By utilizing the 6LoWPAN implementation of IPv6, we’re future proofing LIFX against the potential lock-in of special interest groups, proprietary standards and licensing restrictions.
We are now in full “heads down, bums up” mode pulling together everything we need to take to China so we can roll out the first 50 prototype bulbs. Once we land in China it takes about 2 weeks to get these first prototypes off the production line and into our hands. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the process.
Oh, and if you're wondering what that tube is. It's something we've been cooking in the lab.
Thanks for reading and we'll be back again soon.