As I strive to stay up-to-date in the world of real estate, home décor, and architecture, I always make my way back to one brand: IKEA. Although some might underestimate the brand as an affordable but non-threatening contender, their perseverance, stretch into other categories, and ability to make a mean meatball have solidified them as a powerhouse, haters be damned. They’ve delved into humanitarian efforts, been at the forefront of solar energy, and now they are breaking the mold of hard-to-put-together coffee tables once more with their latest effort: smart lighting.
It’s okay to be skeptical about how “smart” lighting can get. After all, I’m pretty sure the last time lights were marketed to me like that, I ended up disgruntled in my bed slow clapping until finally giving up and honoring my light with a standing ovation aka just getting up to turn it off. Eye roll. Fool me once…
These lights, though, are a different story. First of all they are a 2017 Innovation By Design Awards finalist which makes them smart and cool, plus pretty impressive. For frame of reference, the awards are handed out by Fast Company and honor 299 inventions out of over 2,500 submissions. Past honorees have included suspects such as AirBNB, Facebook’s evolution of the “like” button (reactions), Google’s new logo, the Planned Parenthood experience, and more.
The idea for IKEA’s new product line stemmed from the realization that more than ever, people are spending a lot of time at home. People eat at home, sleep at home, decompress at home, clean at home, entertain at home, work at home, exercise at home – it’s a space that’s used in a multitude of ways. And to state the obvious, to do anything at home, we need lighting. IKEA is just banking on the fact that perhaps not all lighting is created equal (and maybe it shouldn’t be.)
Their smart lighting system feature Wi-Fi and remote-controlled LED bulbs that allow customers to change the ambiance of a room with the simple touch of a button (and without having multiple fixtures.) IKEA’s not lighting the way – but they are forging their own path. Smart-lighting systems have yet to take off in the mainstream market due to the perception that they are both expensive and hard to operate. IKEA’s version, however, shatters that perception from the beginning, with a starter pack costing merely $20. The lights get a nod for their intelligence because thy are adaptable – they are dimmable, motion-sensor responsible, and color-changeable. While you might not think the “color” of lighting matters much, you’d be surprised. Cooler lighting can be a coo for harrowing focus and getting stuff done when your kitchen table is doubling as your desk, and warmer lighting can set the mood for a cozy evening whilst you’re entertaining friends for dinner.
Instead of getting fancy with naming the different moods of the lighting – IKEA has kept things straightforward, offering customers “everyday, focus, and relax” moods along with a manual control. The kits are compatible with popular “smart” home systems such as Apple’s HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Aside from mood lighting, smart lighting allows for efficiency. According to an Engadget article:
“IKEA says it wants to ‘give you and your home a sense of safety with lighting that responds instantly.’ When you walk into a room, the light will automatically switch on and remain lit until one, five, or 10 minutes have passed.”
Now, I don’t usually tip my hat to things that are smarter than me. No, typically I look for loopholes, and end up proclaiming that I could be smart, too, if I wanted to spend my time reading up on useful information rather than zoning out while ogling at the Bachelor in Paradise. But, hat’s off to you IKEA. Put the mood lighting on low and I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled program.