“The Worlds Smartest Light Bulb”, is one lofty tagline. Ilumi’s lights featuring Bluetooth Mesh technology, on board ( yes in the bulb) processing and memory, deliver on just that. These are the one bulb on the market that are a self contained solution.
I was fortunate enough to have the team at Ilumi provide a few samples to review. After spending a few weeks with lights, I am really impressed with the performance and brilliance they provide. Ilumi has engineered a master piece that will just get better as they expand their partnerships.
Throughout this review I will cover the setup and use of the bulbs, the features and how I integrated them into my home automation scheme. The Ilumi lights have some great features that really set them apart from other LED smart bulbs.
Lets take a moment and talk about Ilumi. As the home automation market grows and the wave of IOT is flooding the world, there are lots of new names popping up. Ilumi was started as the brain child of Swapnil Bora and Corey Egan back in 2010. Together at the University of Texas at Dallas, they crafted the idea and hit the ground running.
Along the way they have leveraged Kickstarter, Indigogo, as well as Shark Tank to get where they are today. Many of you may have already heard the buzz. They now offer 3 varieties of bulbs, A19, BR30 flood and a new out door flood light.
On to the the tech right! Yes, that is why I am here and you continue to read on. Ilumi has equipped their lights with all kinds of bells and whistles.
- Flash Memory – The on board memory lets the Ilumi lights store your settings. Allowing you to use a standard wall switch to turn the Ilumi bulbs off and on. When they are turned on, they will remember your settings and schedule. Giving the benefits of smart bulb and the use of the light switch.
- Real-time clock – The clock will keep you Ilumi bulbs on track. If you using the Rise and Shine feature, or the Circadian mode, the real-time clock will make sure that the Ilumi bulbs perform the events on time, each time.
- Bluetooth – Not just any Bluetooth, but Ilumi Smart Mesh Bluetooth. Featuring Meshtek technology. Bluetooth is usually a point to point technology. Ilumi has taken it to the next level. They have even begun to license this advanced Bluetooth technology for other devices.
- RGBYW LEDs – Armed with red, green, blue, yellow and while LED’s the Ilumi bulbs can produce a plethora of colors and various shades.
Armed with all that tech inside you can see why the Ilumi bulb stands out from the rest. It is definitely worthy of the SHA Too Cool Award. I am very excited to see what the coming months will hold as Ilumi strives to make their bulbs part of the larger home automation universe. The
majority of smart bulbs on the market today, aren’t smart on their own.
They need to be connected to a Smart Hub such as Wink, or Samsung Smarthings in order to be automated and controlled. They are really just an LED light bulb with a Zigby or zwave radio built in. Ilumi simplifies that by putting all the intelligence in the bulb.
There is a cost for the smartest bulb in the world. An Ilumi A19 standard bulb goes for about $49.99, The Flood version for $59.99 and the outdoor model for $69.99. They are available directly from Ilumi and most of your favorite DIY stores. This price is very competitive against other colorful LED light providers. Especially when you can just purchase one and have full control and automation. Then expand as you feel the need to.
Ilumi Review - Setup
The Ilumi bulbs are pretty simple to setup. At this time, they do not support any home automation integration. Which may be a non-starter for those of you like myself that use a smart hub to integrate your home automation solutions. The upside is that they are very simple to use and control. There are many features in the Ilumi bulbs that could make them the solution for you. I will get into the home automation support later in the review. As a growing company, they are definitely working to expand their compatibility.
As I mentioned, the Ilumi bulbs are very easy to setup. They are after all Bluetooth. Which is ever so popular. I can summarize the simple setup in just a few steps.
- Download the App from your favorite app store.
- Open the app and create an account
- search for Ilumi
- Drag the found Ilumi bulb into a group
The Ilumi bulbs were ready to be found as soon as you place them in a lamp. They power on, cycle through a few colors and then wait patiently. Once you open the Ilumi app, you are prompted to create an account. Once your account is created you are prompted with the question, Got Ilumi? Our fiends at Ilumi make it very easy to order more bulbs in the mobile app.
Already having the bulbs in place, I started the discovery process. The Ilumi app is intelligent enough to tell you when Bluetooth is off, and will prompt you to enable it. Once found you can easily drag the bulb icon into the group of your choice, or create a new one. Take a look at the screen shots in the slide show to get a good look at the process and app.
As you look at the screen shots, you will notices these are all from the New Ilumi App. It is the one in the app store with the all white lights in the image. The team at Ilumi was kind enough to let me in on their beta version, so I could see the latest features. While not complete yet, in just the few short weeks I have had it they have made consistent improvements.
They do recommend that you download both apps. As the feature set in the beta version changes with each release. Sometimes features are pulled back into development and out of the beta app. If you install both applications, the original app will stay consistent.
The Ilumi bulbs are impressive. One of the most popular items to automate in your home is the lighting. 90% of my lighting in my home is LED and attached to either a z-wave switch or its a smart bulb featuring ziggby. One of the most important things I look for when I am choosing lighting is the ability to Dim. Seems simple enough right? LED bulbs work a little differently than normal incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs are actually always blinking, but its so fast its not perceivable. I am totally over simplifying it here, but you get the point. If you dim some LED bulbs, even though they say they are dimming capable, they may flicker . This is horrible and usually makes the bulb not very usable at lower brightness levels.
As a light source, the Ilumi bulbs blew my expectations away. No matter the color, the brightness or saturation, there was no flicker. Just consistent performance. There was a little fluctuation while switching colors and presets, but that was just the colors changing. The color performance is second to none. The Dimming, either via the app, or switch, performed excellently.
The control of the Ilumi bulbs works very well. When you open the app, like most it loads for a few seconds, then is ready to go. As I used the app more and more, I did notice a few quirky behaviors. In both the beta version and current app, the bulb status was often in correct. There were many times, I would open the app, and it would indicate the bulb was off, while it was on. While this was a little odd, it only caused slight inconvenience really.
As soon as I used the app to turn the bulb on then off again, the bulb would turn off. This would happen quite often. The same would true if I was wanting to change the color. On initial opening of the applications, there would often be a delay. Once the Ilumi bulbs were responding, the delay didn’t occur again. It also didn’t happen each time, but it seemed to happen more often than not, upon initially opening the app.
During the use of the Ilumi bulbs, I never once had to reinstall them, or found them to become disconnected and unable to control. This was a big plus, and the finicky app nuances I am sure will get corrected over time.
On the coming pages, I will go over some of the great features of the Ilumi lights and go over what the built in intelligence really brings to the table. Then at the end I will sum up the pro’s and con’s of my experience with the lights.