Is the world ready for a new smart lighting company? That’s the bet Erik Charlton, a founding member of the Nest team and its former head of business, is making with his latest startup. Locoroll is a Cupertino-based company making a smart dimmer switch according to filings with the Federal Communications Commission. Based on both the FCC filings and a trademark filing, Locoroll plans to sell the switch under the Noon brand name.
Lux Capital and Sway Ventures have backed Locoroll, which also has an impressive roster of smart home product executives. Greg Smeltzer, its head of product comes from Lyve, a company that made photo organizing software for phones and TVs. The head of marketing is Kathy Sanders who was the former CMO at August. Other members of the team come from GoPro and Fitbit.
I’ve been tracking this startup for the last few months after hearing about it from a retailer. The launch timing is uncertain, but is likely close given that the FCC filing has appeared. However, the product has been a while in the making. Locoroll was formed in Jan. 2016 according to Charlton’s LinkedIn profile.
The original product appears to be a smart dimmer switch, but the company calls itself a smart lighting system. The switch will have both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support according to the FCC filing. Smart lighting makes sense as a category if only because there are few super compelling options out there. Lutron is my personal favorite but it requires a hub to connect with popular services thanks to its proprietary radio technology.
Other switches offer basic lighting functions plus the ability to control the switch through an app or a voice-based interface like Amazon’s Alexa. And there are dozens of interesting startups that offer capacitive touch buttons that are programmable or artificial intelligence built in that will learn your habits. If I were making a bet, that’s where I would hope Noon goes.
Because light switches have continuous access to power and a relatively large space to put computing, they are a logical place to put Bluetooth-based presence detection in a room: algorithms that anticipate what a person might want at a set time and even repeaters for wireless services. If Noon offers anything like that it would be compelling.
Although it would have to be done well. There are few things more irritating than a “smart” light that incorrectly anticipates your wants. Currently, startups ranging from Nuro Technologies to Brilliant are trying to innovate in lighting. Other companies include Ketra, Stack Lighting, and Plum.
The challenge, however, is that light switches require an install that intimidates most people. If Noon can make installation easier, offer a unique blend of services that feel automatic and make it look stylish it could win in a category that is still trying to figure out what it should look like in a smart home.