Starting out with Philips Hue Lights & Google Home

One of the best new features of Google Home is the ability to use it to control your smart home devices, like smart Philips Hue lighting.

For those who are still learning about this new device, Google Home is a smart speaker and digital assistant that can also be used to control a variety of gadgets in your home by simply asking. Google Home is controlled merely by saying, “OK Google,” followed by a command. Continue reading “Starting out with Philips Hue Lights & Google Home”

IllumiBowl motion-activated toilet night light review

This light couldn’t be more fun and functional.  IllumiBowl’s toilet night light is just that; a way for you to find your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, without the need to turn on harsh bright overhead lighting.
An alert reader asked me to check this light out and I have to say that while initially I thought it was kind of silly, now I love it. Continue reading “IllumiBowl motion-activated toilet night light review”

Light bulbs mimic daylight & night light for better sleep – Lighting Science

Who couldn’t use a few more hours (or even minutes) of extra sleep, or better sleep overall? We should all go to bed earlier, but sometimes that’s not realistic.  Couple our poor bedtime habits with the fact many of us are glued to our screens (being bombarded with blue light that stimulates the brain and disrupts sleep) and we’re not doing ourselves any favours.

What’s up with sleep light, wake light?

There are ways to fight off these sleep disruptors; one of them is to change your light bulbs. Yes, by matching your body’s natural circadian rhythms to different colours of light, you can help you body stay properly in sync, and possibly even stay healthier.

I recently received samples of several lights from the company Lighting Science.  These lights are specifically created to compensate for the problems that the wrong lighting can create. Continue reading “Light bulbs mimic daylight & night light for better sleep – Lighting Science”

New Playbulb Solar made for pool & outdoors

Start dreaming of summer now. Playbulb has a brand new smart light that lets you decorate your pool, pond or yard with multi-coloured light. It’s the newly launched Playbulb Solar. Continue reading “New Playbulb Solar made for pool & outdoors”

Top 10 tech gadgets of 2016

I’ve tested a lot of gadgets and gear this year. Picking favourites is hard, because unlike previous years, many of the items that have come into the tech test kitchen in 2016 are really high quality, and work well, so picking the cream of the crop is a challenge. Nevertheless, here are the Top 10 tech gadgets I highly recommend having in your life. Continue reading “Top 10 tech gadgets of 2016”

6 smart light hacks for Christmas holiday decor

There are two types of people when it comes to lighting up the house for the holidays; the gung-ho Clark Griswold types, and those for whom the thought of climbing a ladder in the cold inspires dread.

If you’re in the latter camp, know there are easier ways to make your home festive thanks to technology.

Holiday Hack #1: Smart Plugs for Automation

wemo-img-overview-3
Want to control your Christmas lights from another room, or even another city? Smart plugs like the WeMo Switch allow you to plug in virtually anything, from Christmas lights, to mobiles or animated figurines and turn it off an on with your smartphone or tablet. This works really well for tree lights in particular, since crawling under or behind the tree to pull out the plug is often a pain.

Smart plugs can also be used on automatic timers, coming on at dusk and turning off when you want.

Holiday Hack #2: App-connected string lights

Plaubulb string christmas lights smartMiPow, makers of Playbulb lights has come out with a smart connected string light for this holiday. These smart LED light strings give you smart functionality via a Bluetooth connection; you can turn them on or off with your smartphone, adjust colour to dozens of different subtler hues, you can set timers, or use a handful of special effects, all automatically. Best of all, these are for indoors or out.

With a kit like this you don’t even need a smart plug. Read my full review of String here.

Holiday Hack #3: Stick-up LED Lights go anywhere

img_7356-2The amazing thing about smart lighting is how versatile and flexible it is. Case in point; a couple new LED string lights that are thin, pliable and flexible so you can stick them up anywhere.

Philips Hue String, Osram Lightify Flex and MiPow Playbulb Comet are just three great examples of lights you can stick anywhere for holiday decor.  If you use removable 3M Command adhesive tabs, it makes moving them and removing the tape even easier.img_7347-2

Use these light strips on the inside of a window frame to show your neighbourhood your red, green or icy blue colours. Coil them into frosted glass vases for temporary colourful lamps, wrap them around large mirrors, or stick them under furniture for holiday ambiance.

Want to go to another level? Nanoleaf Aurora is a unique set of flat plastic panels that can be stuck pretty much anywhere; you can use them to create a holiday-themed wall decoration, and adjust the lights to flicker red and green or frosty blue and white.

Holiday Hack #4: Make a light-up Christmas Tree

img_7334

Feeling creative? Why not use the Aurora to create a flat panel Christmas tree in a small space where a real tree is just not realistic? Simply arrange the triangular shaped panels in a tree shape, configure the panels to turn green (go for a gold on on top, reminiscent of a star!) and you’re holiday ready!

Read my review and all about the Nanoleaf Aurora here.

Holiday Hack #5: Use a wireless lamp in your table settingimg_9005

Table setting is an art, if you ask me. Matching dishes to napkins and selecting florals requires some level of flair which I struggle to achieve. That’s where I pull in smart lamps; I can turn the Mipow Sphere glass globe green to match my good china, or I can set the Philips Hue Go lamp to a cool snowy hue for a winter feast. The Go lamp also works well under the Christmas tree to give it some extra colour pop or by the fireplace.

Holiday Hack #6: Use coloured bulbs for decor

img_9003As I’ve written before, smart lights are an easy way to decorate your home for any occasion. Painting your room with light can warm up a room, cool it off, or give it a holiday theme with the touch of an app. Lights like Philips Hue smart bulbs can be set to holiday red or green easily, you can use LIFX’s ‘scenes’ to create a holiday glow, or employ a MiPow Playbulb to provide both a light show AND music from its built-in speaker!

Holiday Hack #6: Use the Internet of Things to automate … ANYTHING

img_7355-2If you haven’t experimented with IFTTT (If This Then That), you’re missing out.  IFTTT uses apps and smart devices to create actions that happen automatically. I wrote about how you can use it to turn coloured smart lights blue when snow is in the forecast.   But you can also use it for holiday fun. Need a quick lesson on how it all works? Click here.

If you own a smart doorbell and some smart lights you can use an IFTTT ‘recipe’ to play Christmas music on a Sonos speaker when the doorbell is pressed, and to set lights flashing green and red. Read more about how to do that, or to achieve the same effect with a motion sensor, via the Yonomi app here. You can also surf the IFTTT website for holiday light and sound recipes that have already been created and borrow one that suits you.

Do you have a Holiday hack or IFTTT recipe we should try? Post your ideas in comments below!

Carpets that glow; the future of flooring

luminous

It can be hard for a business to stand out. Signs and email marketing campaigns are old school. How about making an impression from the ground up?

What are Luminous Carpets?

Brand new lighting technology is allowing for LED lights to be imbedded in carpet, meaning companies can display directions or even advertisements to people in ways they’re not expecting.

A system called Luminous Carpets lets you touch your smartphone or tablet, and then lights under your feet brightly display images or words. Even dynamic moving images are an option.

Just a few ways Luminous Carpets can be used:

  • Draw in crowds at tradeshows, with eye-catching floor displays
  • Greet and guide hotel guests, making them feel welcome
  • Go hand in hand with the aesthetics of your building, with high-quality carpet material that looks good even when the lights are off.

 

luminous_carpets_teatro_madrid“Luminous Carpets combine Philips LED technology with resilient but luxurious looking Desso carpet, explains the website for the technology, “The result is a durable, stylish flooring solution that you can use to greet, impress and inform people in new and exciting ways.”

Luminous Carpets can be connected to electrical or IT infrastructure, and synced to run a variety of pre-programmed light displays. Or, you can change the lights on-demand from tablet and any other networked devices.

How Luminous carpets work

The thin LED panels and lights pair with ‘light transmissive carpet tiles’ to allow light to shine right through the carpet on the floor. The LEDs are built into enclosed units that are strong enough to be walked on while still protecting against liquids or spills, and they’re designed not to overheat.

While the business and commercial applications are obvious, it could be pure fun to have something like this in a  home. Sick of your boring beige carpets? Why not sparkle things up with gold lights? Celebrating a birthday? You can write a bold welcome message for the celebrant’s arrival. Think of the fun you could have.

Want to find out more? Check out the website.luminous_carpets_cubics

The Nanoleaf Aurora smart light is really amazing

nanoleaf-4First we had fire, then electricity. Tesla, Faraday, and Franklin pioneered the technology behind electricity, and then Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb. The way we light our homes really hasn’t changed much since that auspicious day in 1879. The lightbulb is round, it screws into a fixture, which requires a tradesman to install; electricity is dangerous for the uneducated.

Forget the bulb, there’s a whole new way

But now, a Canadian company has really, actually, reinvented the way we light our homes. Nanoleaf, based in Toronto, has invented lightweight, flat plastic panels that fully illuminate, change colour, morph and swirl. They’re bright, responsive and fully configurable, both in terms of how you place the lights, and how you operate them. This lighting system is called Aurora, and yes, it’s deliberately named after the Northern Lights phenomenon known as Aurora Borealis. Continue reading “The Nanoleaf Aurora smart light is really amazing”

Cute Playbulb Zoocoro lamp is a great nightlight for kids

Playbulb zoocoro animal lampKids love animals so they’re bound to love this new line of lamps, particularly little ones who don’t like to be left in the dark.

Meet Playbulb Zoocoro!

Playbulb Zoocoro lights are small plastic lamps that are rechargeable, and can be used while plugged in, or away from their charging base to supply light anywhere you need it. Continue reading “Cute Playbulb Zoocoro lamp is a great nightlight for kids”

Easy Halloween hacks; decorate with smart lights

Halloween is around the corner, and there’s an easy way to get your home ready.

Coloured light bulbs can easily transform your home into a spooky space; whether you want orange to light up your front window pumpkin, or some darker lighting scenes to create a creepier vibe. Continue reading “Easy Halloween hacks; decorate with smart lights”