Monday, 16 February 2015

Is The Light Switch Becoming Extinct?

The LED lamp has got a pretty certain future but with the way that technology is changing so rapidly, how much longer will the humble light switch last? 
Lux Magazine's James Holloway has looked into what the future holds for Light Switches and proposes five things that could replace the switch

1. Gestures
The idea behind gesture controlled lighting is pretty simple. Why have to always travel to the light switch to turn a light not when you could wave at it from the comfort of your seat. As a matter of fact, the technology already exists to make gestured lighting controls. An example already being produced is Ubiquilux's 'e-Motion', in which you wave up and down to turn a light on or off, but also you can wave side to side to adjust brightness. 
One reason to change to this type of switch is purely due to cleanliness, with less physical contact with a switch, germs won't be passed on as easily, extremely useful in hospitals. What is unsure is how close you would need to be for your gesture to turn the light on, if you need to be very close, whats the point? You may as well have a switch! if further away, surely your normal movements could be confused for a light switching gesture. 

2. Voice Control
Our phones, computers and tvs can now all be controlled by our voice so why not our lighting? 'Vocca' is a new voice activated light bulb adaptor which simply screws in between your lamp and its housing. It can work with any lamp and adds on a minuscule 0.25W of power. Finding it hard to see the downside? Imagine someone listening in on your private conversations, scary. 

3.Presence Detection
Motion detection is getting on a bit now but the problem with it is, if you're sat reading a book in the comfort of your own home, you're likely to be sitting still, and the problem with sitting still and lights powered by motion detectors is that they will turn off. 'Zulu' is a new product that aims to tackle this issue, it is a wireless power adaptor that connects to your phone via bluetooth. This detects your presence inside your home and in certain rooms, it doesn't matter whether you are moving or sitting perfectly still, the light will stay on as long as you are in the room. No more standing up and waving erratically when you get plunged into darkness mid sentence. 

 4. Apps
We are all pretty familiar with the Philips Hue, an app which allows you to control your lighting from your tablet or smartphone through bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Not only can you control whether your light is on or off, you can dim your lighting or even chose your favourite colour to light the room. Although we automatically reach for our phone for practically everything we do, is digging your phone out and finding the correct app really much easier than just flicking a switch? 

5. Smart Home Hubs
Smart homes are the most smart when all systems can communicate with each other. A way to do this is to put a smart thermostat in your home. Google's 'Nest' is the ideal smart home hub as it can do more than just control your lighting, combined with a smart alarm system, you could set your lights to turn on at a particular level when your alarm system is activated and you are not at home. Other systems can make your lights flash when carbon monoxide levels are too high. Very clever but the technology still needs to improve to learn people's preferences

Is the noble light switch facing extinction after all?
All of the new technologies above are extremely innovative and we can't see any reason why they could not become part or our everyday lives. However, as impressing as they all are, it is more likely that they will enhance the light switch rather than supersede it. Although, this point of view may not last for ever. We are always looking for a simpler way to do things and our expectations of technology are getting higher and higher. Maybe light switches will become extinct sooner than we expect. 

Article adapted for this blog from Lux Magazine article 'Five things that could replace the light switch.'