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Bright Idea? Talk to Your Lightbulb to Control Your House

LAS VEGAS — In the few short years that LED bulbs have been available, there's been many innovations in how you can interact with them. Sengled, which has made bulbs that also act as speakers, Wi-Fi repeaters, and security cameras, is now in the final stages of creating a bulb that can respond to your voice. The aptly named Sengled Voice bulb, due out by the end of 2016, will be able to listen to your voice prompts, and then either perform a function itself, or relay your desire to other smart home devices.

Similar to its other bulbs, the Sengled Voice has both a microphone and a speaker, in addition to Wi-Fi. So, for example, if you were to ask it the weather, it could look up the current conditions online, and then speak back to you if it was rainy or sunny outside.

While it's in the early stages of development—the prototype I saw wasn't properly working—Sengled is looking to integrate other smart home devices and services, such as Amazon Echo, Apple HomeKit, and Works with Nest. Sengled is also designing the Voice to recognize sounds such as a baby crying or a window breaking, so that it can automatically trigger other actions, such as a text to mom, or turning on all the lights and the security cameras.

Pricing has yet to be determined, but having voice control could be a key differentiator for Sengled over competing connected bulbs. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if others are planning the same thing, so Sengled's success will lie in its ease of use, as well as the number of services and devices with which it will interact. We're a long way beyond the Clapper.

Mike Prospero

Michael A. Prospero is the deputy editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing the smart home, drones, and fitness/wearables categories. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine or some other cooking gadget.