Smartphone Meets Smarter Light? Turning On Remote Controlled Lighting For The Home

The GE Link Connect LED Wink app starter kit, photo courtesy of General Electric

The GE Link Connect LED Wink app starter kit, photo courtesy of General Electric

Smart technology has moved beyond smartphones and personal electronics. Its future lies in household interconnectedness – smart homes that make Jetson-like living closer than ever. As our appliances, thermostats and other devices become electronically entwined, there are shining stars and bumps in the road that light our way along the path to connectivity. Enter remote controlled lighting.

General Electric’s newest remote controlled lighting offering, the Link LED Connect, marks GE’s entrance into the smart home lighting market. With it, consumers can control home lighting remotely and sync with other devices. Link and Quirky’s accompanying Wink software lets consumers create their smart home – programming thermostats, locking and unlocking doors, opening and closing garage doors and dimming or turning lights on and off as desired.

Launched in July, the Link brand features three unique looking bulbs;

  • a standard 60-watt replacement / 12 watt soft white LED bulb
  • a 65-watt replacement / 10 watt soft white indoor LED floodlight and
  • a 90-watt replacement indoor-outdoor LED spotlight.

Like other LEDs, its longevity is guaranteed for 22.8 years. Energy efficient, it uses 80 percent less power than traditional bulbs. All three require the use of the Wink Hub although only the 60-watt replacement bulb comes packaged with it.

Link’s bulb looks intentionally different, said Tom Boyle, GE’s Lighting Chief Innovation Manager. Reminiscent of the traditional Edison bulb with its filament, the loop in the bulb is the working antenna.

You can see this is something new, different from other LEDs, Boyle said.

The Wink app, photo courtesy of Wink

The Wink app, photo courtesy of Wink

The Link is not Energy Star certified because there’s no category for connected products, although Boyle said they’re working on changing this.

The Link Connect system draws a small amount of power – vampire power – in the “off” state to ensure the signal keeps active. Because this is LED technology, however, in the long run there’s still a huge energy savings, said Boyle.

Designed to work with Wink’s smart home platform, Link Connect is capable of integrating with other Wink-enabled devices including Quirky, Nest, Honeywell, Dropcam, Lutron, and smart bulbs from TCP and Philips.

The product launched with 15 partners, said Matt McGovern, Wink’s Marketing head. It encompassed a variety of diverse companies – from start-up Rachio, which makes a smart irrigation controller that delivers weather data to help conserve water, to companies like GE, Honeywell, Schlage and Lutron. Since then, they’ve added Nest to the fold. Read more about smart thermostats.

McGovern says the Hub brings the different brands’ technologies together.

“It can speak the different languages of the different products, said McGovern. But it’s a challenge to keep up with the spectrum of values for all these, he said.

“No one else has brought together the caliber of brands and products we have,” McGovern added.

Initial reports showed software glitches when installing the Link with the Wink Hub.

“We’re adding more capacity to expand this,” McGovern said.

McGovern says Wink listens to customers, reading and responding to every review. With their 24/7 U. S.based customer support, they’re producing updates and changing and adding instructions.

Link Connect and the Wink app offer home automation made relatively easy. Start with basic scheduling and work your way up to other features. Wink also offers “Robots” which allow for geofencing where Wink monitors your phone’s location, and automatically turns lights on and off as you come and go.

“It’s a very affordable product that allows people to get into the Internet of Things in a useful, practical way that can save energy and save time,” said Boyle.

Consumers should be aware, however, that add-ons aren’t included with Link packages, which can take the price up. Although the bulbs run from around $15 to around $25, things like the dimmer, alternator and Hub can run from around $50 to around $55.

But, said McGovern, “Wink is making the smart home accessible for everyone. You can buy one lightbulb for $15 and pair it with the Wink Hub and you have a smart home. Then add another product.”

“How you use it is up to the user,” he said.

Why not try it, said Boyle. “It’s only going to get better over time.”

You’ll find GE’s Link LED Connect and the Wink Hub at Home Depot and on Amazon. Also look for Wink’s new Relay, a home touchscreen that brings the power of the Wink app to your wall.

Feature image courtesy of GE newsroom 

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