Lightpad: The intelligent light switch that wants to control your home

There are lots of companies trying to crack intelligent lighting in the home. Philips has its Hue lighting system with intelligent bulbs, while others like Belkin's WeMo system let you control everything via smart plugs.

Plum, a relatively new and unheard of company based in Austin, Texas, is tackling the problem from a different perspective.

It has designed an intelligent light switch that will not only control the current lights in the house, but also have the potential to control internet-connected devices like Sonos in the future.

"The long term goal is an app that will control everything in your home, from your lights to your sonos," explains Utz Baldwin, CEO at Plum, to Pocket-lint over a coffee at Capital Factory, a startup hub in Austin, Texas.

Called the Lightpad, the light switch promises to fit into a standard American light switch fitting (a UK version is due in 2015), and then allow you to control your lights either via the switch or an accompanying iPhone or Android app.

Created by Baldwin, who in a previous life was the Chairman of CEDIA, a global home technology trade association that offers home automation, audio video, home network training and certification, Baldwin has used his numerous years in the field to invent something he believes will be the answer to controlling your home without always having to reach for your phone.

The Lightpad, has a capacitive multi-touch interface and is controlled a number of gestures. A one-finger swipe lights a room, two fingers controls all the lights in a room, while a pinch turns out all the lights in the whole house that are connected to the system.

Connected to the internet via a standard Wi-Fi connection to your wireless network, the lightswitch can tap into a number of services and features including ifttt.com.

Taking advantage of that internet connection, each Lightpad has a coloured LED on it so it softly glows in your choice of colour so you can find it easily at night or be programmed to glow when you get a Facebook message or if the weather changes.

The Lightpad also features a Bluetooth beacon in it allowing you to set commands based on when you walk past it.

Baldwin explained that having Bluetooth in the Lightpad would mean that when you walked up to your front door, for example, the Lightpad would know you are approaching and then automatically turn on the lights as you walked through the door.

For those keen to monitor their energy bills, the accompanying Lightpad app also monitors energy use as well. It will allow you to track and monitor everything attached to a Plum product. You can find out how much it costs when you leave your outside lights on all night, for example.

Due out in September for $99, it is already proving popular on Kickstarter and the site's pre-order page - Baldwin says they've already sold around 6,000 of the intelligent light switches with most customers opting to have many in their house rather than just one.

The Lightpad isn't the only product in the works by Plum. It also has plans for a smart plug and smart wall plug that will let you control and monitor everything from the app.

"It's a sub-metering system that will tell you how much you are paying," says Baldwin before adding "the future of the connected home isn't about interoperability it's about analytics."

Believing that the amount of technology that will go into the home will only deepen and change drastically over the next decade, presumably helped by the success of his products, Baldwin has high hopes for the Lightpad, so much so that he tells us that the company has already turned down a number of offers from a number of suitors preferring instead to look towards an IPO in the future.

"The long term is an app that will control everything in your home, from your lights to your Sonos."

Brave, but exciting times. Either way expect your home to get a lot more technical in the future, especially if Baldwin has anything to do with it.



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