LAS VEGAS—Now here's a bright idea: Embedded in Stack's Alba smart LED lightbulb are motion and ambient light sensors, which will automatically brighten and the bulbs when they sense you entering a room, and then dim after you leave. We went hands-on with the Stack bulbs, which are available this spring for $60 each ($150 for a set of two with a hub), to see if this idea can really shine.
Inside each bulb are two motion sensors and an ambient light sensor. When someone walks into a room, the lights will automatically activate. And, as the day progresses, the temperature of the lights will change, from a cooler white in the morning to a warmer tone in the evening. The lights use Zigbee to connect to each other and the Stack hub, which itself is connected to the Internet.
Through a smartphone app, you can override or fine-tune the lights' color temperature, group lights based on the room they're in, and, through a partnership with Nest, can tell the thermostat which rooms heat up or cool down faster than others. That way, when the lights detect you're in a room that tends to be cool, it will direct the Nest to keep the heat on longer.
While Stack isn't marketing its lights as s security solution, there is an "away" mode that will send you an alert if the lights detect motion while you're out of your house. Of course, the sensitivity of the detectors can be adjusted if your pets are still at home. Also, based on your habits, the away mode will also turn on the lights and adjust their brightness to make it look as if you are actually home. Now that's clever.
The floodlight-like Alba is Stack's first product, and projects a beam 120 degrees wide. Depending on its brightness (which can go up to 750 lumens), it will consume anywhere from 0.4 to 13 watts of electricity. Its color temperature can range from 2700 degrees Kelvin to 5000 degrees. If you so choose, you can deactivate the motion and ambient light sensors in the bulb, if, for example, you have them in a home theater and don't want them turning on in the middle of a movie.
In the future, Stack plans to release LED bulbs in other shapes and sizes, including a traditionally shaped A19 bulb and 2- and 4-foot tubes. For now, though, the Alba is a smart first step.
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Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.