Budget-friendly smartbulb wants everyone to have cool lights


Qube Smartbulb
The Qube Smartbulb is taking on more expensive lighting like Philips Hue.
Photo: Qube

I love my Philips Hue smart-lighting kit, but every time I’ve just randomly turned my living-room lights different colors in front of another person, they’ve asked the same question:

“How much did you pay for this?”

And then I just kind of mumble something because while the system has added convenience and versatility to my apartment, I’m still not super comfortable admitting that I plan on paying $60 for a light bulb. Instead, I just say, “It was for work,” and leave it.

But Qube, a new smart-lighting system that launches in April, wants to avoid that kind of awkwardness with bulbs that cost way less than its competitors but offer just as many opportunities for just the weirdest ambience you can design.

In fact, Qube‘s main selling point is its lower price point. Its campaign on crowdfunding site Indiegogo is all about how affordable it is, and so is the press release announcing the product. And that’s cool, I guess, because it is pretty cheap. The Wi-Fi enabled bulbs, which Qube says will work on their own without a Philips Hue-style hub, will retail for $19 each.

That’s still pretty expensive for a light bulb; don’t get me wrong. But it’s better.

All of this talk about money takes away from Qube’s weirdest purported function, however. The bulbs connect to your home router, but they also use Bluetooth to track you via “nearby smart Bluetooth Low-Energy wearables” like the slightly creepy GPS SmartSole. That means that the bulbs could potentially know which room you’re in and turn on and off automatically. “In fact, with Qube’s ability to track people or items within the home, you can also use this feature to find any lost BLE devices by lighting up the bulb closest to it,” the press release says. And that’s cool, I suppose, but I still like operating my Hues with my voice so that I can pretend I’m a character on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Plus it’s way less surveillance-y.

Qube launches in April, and it’s looking for $50,000 from Indiegogo. As of this writing, it has raised $21,558 with a full month remaining, so it’s probably gonna make it.

  • tjwolf

    I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me why putting “smarts” into a perishable light bulb is preferable to putting it into a permanent light switch – surely it’s not because replacing a light switch is too difficult a job?

  • tjwolf

    I don’t follow your reasoning: smart switches can just as easily be controlled by a mobile remote as a smart bulb. Yes, you’re right – a smart switch is as expensive as a smart bulb, but a smart switch will last forever, a smart bulb will not (yes, LEDs last many years). And for many/some of us, a switch controls multiple lights – e.g. if you have recessed or track lighting – so a smart switch would turn them on/off all at once! So there’s at least one important use case in which a smart switch has *more* functions rather than less. I.e. it seems to me that a smart bulb only makes sense where one switch operates one light.

    Imagine a home with a half dozen recessed lights – all on a dimmer switch. Even with your very reasonably priced smart bulbs, we’re taking over $100. Doing so with the “Hue” would run over $300! A smart switch sounds a lot smarter in that common setup.

    • Qube Smart Home

      Hello, thanks for your feedback! You do have a point there! On our side, our focus now is on Qube as it allows users to create moods using different color settings. To add on, Qube do allow grouping to turn on/off the lights together. It also allows other features like mood settings, receive light notifications etc which allows users more customization. Thanks for your questions once again! We take your feedback seriously and will explore the possibility of a smart switch in our future product pipeline!