Meet Steve Harris, founder of a Seattle start up Think Automatic. After spending 7 years with Microsoft, Steve continued his passion in home automation from his garage. Having done a successful Kickstarter campaign, he is now finalizing his product design to pass regulations before sending it off to be mass produced. His product, Luminode, is a wirelessly connected dimmer light switch that looks, act, and feels just like a regular light switch EXCEPT – it “learns” your schedule/pattern and monitors energy usage of your home lighting. When I ask for Luminode’s value proposition, Steve’s reply was “conservation” – conservation of time, money, and energy. It’s like Nest thermostat in a light switch – observes and remembers what you like and don’t like about your light and when.
We all use light switches in our homes and we expect them to do two things: switch lights on/off or adjust the dimness of lights. Steve explained to me that current home “automation” gadgets in the industry are really complex home “control” systems. In order for many of these gadgets to work, customers are required to go through painful setup procedures and are often times force to learn new, unintuitive ways to operate them. Steve’s Luminode is a simple plug and play light switch, allowing the user to operate it as a conventional light switch as well as a dimmer. To set the right “scene” and brightness of the lights, Luminode operates like a mouse (for a computer) with few clicks. With built-in radios, Luminodes can communicate with one another, thus eliminating redundant (and expensive) multi-way wiring system. As the user use the switch, it learns the user’s schedule and keeps track of how the user uses it. Steve developed a state-of-the-art adaptive genetic learning algorithm and data base system to achieve true machine learning for his product – the behavior of Luminode “evolves” specifically for its user. His vision for the product goes into home automation, far beyond just a light switch. A question came to mind during my interview with him: is this the origin of “Skynet” (from movie Terminator), an intelligent light switch? As a fun fact, he installed Luminodes in his own house and “lives” with them. When he accidentally broke the switches during an upgrade, his family told him “we really miss how it works.”
As a first step, Steve plans to reach to his customers through home builders. Currently he has partnered up with a Canadian home building firm. I think this is a very good first channel for Steve to explore before moving on to other channels of distribution such as online or big-box retailers. Luminode makes a strong case for energy consumption and construction cost savings, and an awesome case for enhancing residents’ life quality.
Want to learn more? Check out the Think Automatic blog and its Kickstarter page:
I feel like I am not doing this awesome product justice with my description. I am very excited about Luminode and honestly can’t wait to get my hands on a few for my house!