Light switches are a sticking point in the smart home. If you have installed a smart bulb, the light switch becomes a source of tension, because if someone turns it off, your smart bulbs stop working. But replacing the switches themselves is an intimidating job for most people, which means that companies are leery of creating a business that relies on consumers swapping them out.
And yet companies can’t resist innovation at the light switch. They are found in every room in the home, have established power and a bit of space in the electrical box to jam in extra computing. Lighting also covers all three of the reasons people might buy a connected gadget: security, comfort and convenience, and fun.
Nuro is one such company. It is building a connected switch that offers motion detection that can distinguish between people and pet, an AI that anticipates how lights are used and a network that links all the bulbs in a home together to share their insights.
The end result sounds something like what Stack Lighting is trying to do, but Nuro founder Premal Ashar argues that the AI that Nuro brings to the table is far and above what other smart lighting companies offer.
Ashar has a lot of experience in smart lighting. He was the founder of Enlighted, a company focused on bringing connected lighting to corporate office buildings.
The Nuro switch is expected to launch at CES this year, and the goal isn’t to sell it directly to consumers. Instead, Ashar is taking the switch to builders in hopes of getting these switches installed around the entire home. With the broader knowledge provided by switches in hallways and rooms, the Nuro system can better anticipate when a light should turn on. For example, one challenge I have had with motion detection in bulbs is that walking past an open door will sometimes set off bulbs on the other side of the doorway.
Ashar says that after a few times of a light in the hallway going off as I passed by an open door without me walking into the hallway, it would stop turning on the light unless I walked into the hall. Nuro’s learning algorithms take that history into account when trying to anticipate a homeowner’s needs.
For now, I’ll have to take him at his word. The switches won’t be available until April of this year, and then primarily to contractors. They will cost $59.95. Nuro will have its work cut out for it. Already in the lighting category big names like GE, Philips and Osram have products, while smart home companies such as Wink and Plum Life are selling switches.
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