With the common light switch, you get two options: on, or off. Isn't it time for something more?
That "something more" is exactly what Oregon-based Bellatrix Systems has in mind with its decidedly uncommon bRight Switch system, a line of Android-powered switches and sockets designed to bring homes and businesses into the 21st century. With bRight Switch, you'll have full touch-screen controls, automation capabilities, and an insane number of features and functions at your disposal, all at a surprisingly affordable up-front cost and with no monthly fees.
Meet the smarter switches and sockets of bRight Switch (pictures) See full gallery
Of course, all of this depends on whether or not Bellatrix can raise the money to make it all happen. The bRight Switch Indiegogo campaign has an ambitious goal of $400,000, and Bellatrix is relying on a surge of preorders to get it over the top. But with such intriguing products at such tempting prices, it isn't hard to imagine the company getting there.
What can't these things do?
With its full-color, Android-powered touch screen and a dizzying number of potential uses, the nLine Switch is Bellatrix's showcase smart device, promising to take lighting control to a whole new level for a retail price of $96, or $75 for Indiegogo backers. Along with dimming and vacation timer settings, the nLine Switch is capable of learning your habits, then automatically lighting your home accordingly. With its built-in Wi-Fi, you'll be able to control it wirelessly, and thanks to low-frequency radio, it'll be able to communicate with other bRight Switch products, granting you remote control over them, as well.
The nLine Switch uses infrared heat detection to sense your proximity and motion, meaning that you'll be able to program it to turn the lights on and off automatically as you enter or leave a room. With its built-in microphone and speaker, you'll be able to stream music from Pandora, set up an alarm clock that turns the lights on as you wake up, make Internet phone calls, or even create a makeshift intercom system. The base doubles as a nightlight, and since it's hardwired in, you'll never need to worry about changing a battery.
You'll be able to control everything from the bRight Switch smartphone app, currently available for Android and iOS users, with BlackBerry and Windows Phone versions said to be in development. These controls include the option to customize the way the device's interface looks -- you can use premade templates, or create your own in the app using your own pictures, fonts, and icons.
One of the coolest-sounding features of the app might be the way it uses a patent-pending process called Visible Light Communication (VBL). Simply put, your smartphone and the nLine Switch will be able to "see" each other. For instance, if you want to change the look of the switch, just change the settings within the app, then hold your phone up face-to-face with the switch. It'll "see" what you've done, then replicate it exactly.
In addition to the nLine Switch, Bellatrix offers two eLine products. Like the nLine Switch, the $40 eLine Switch ($30 on Indiegogo) will dim, automate, and control your lights, and it'll learn your habits too. It also features built-in Wi-Fi, so you'll be able to connect it to your smartphone.
The eLine Outlet features two built-in USB ports, along with built-in surge protection. Like with all bRight Switch products, the base doubles as a nightlight if needed, and if you install either the nLine or the eLine Switch, you'll be able to control whatever you plug into the outlet remotely. The price is especially attractive here, as the eLine Outlet is set to retail for just $20 ($15 for Indiegogo early birds). That's comparable in price to other outlets with built-in USB ports, and none of those offer the potential for remote smart controls.
It remains to be seen whether or not Bellatrix gets the funding that it's trying for, but the campaign is certainly one of the coolest and most compelling that I've seen recently. There are a lot of bold claims being made, and if the bRight Switch line makes it to market, you can rest assured that we'll be testing each and every one of them out. But if the team at Bellatrix can deliver, they might be poised to do for light switches what the, and that would make for a very bright future indeed.