3 unexpected ways to program LIFX smart bulbs

Program your LIFX bulbs to turn off and on with the sun or notify you of an intruder.

Taylor Martin CNET Contributor
Taylor Martin has covered technology online for over six years. He has reviewed smartphones for Pocketnow and Android Authority and loves building stuff on his YouTube channel, MOD. He has a dangerous obsession with coffee and is afraid of free time.
Taylor Martin
3 min read
Taylor Martin/CNET

Boosting the IQ of your living quarters can be as simple as outfitting your lamps and overhead lights with new bulbs. Smart lights come in a host of shapes and sizes with virtually endless possibilities for ways to program and use them.

LIFX bulbs, for instance, work with external services, so you can program your lights to do more than just light the room.

Social notifications

Have your office light up when you are mentioned on social media

If you miss the blinking LED notifier of your BlackBerry glory days, you can turn your office into a room-sized notification LED. All you need is an IFTTT account with your Twitter or Facebook channels activated.

  • Log in to IFTTT and create a new recipe.
  • Select a Twitter mention or Facebook tagged photo notifications as the IF part of the recipe.
  • For the trigger, choose the LIFX channel and choose between blink the selected lights, toggle them off or on, activate a preset scene, or breathe the lights.
  • Once you choose what you want the LIFX bulbs to do, select which lights you want to breathe, whether they should be turned on first, how many times they should breathe, the color you want them to breathe and their brightness.
  • Select Create Action and the next time you are tagged in a photo on Facebook or mentioned on Twitter, your LIFX bulbs will let you know.

Sleep cycle wake-up

Wake up easier with your lights slowly fading on with the sunrise

The quickest way to a cranky morning is being ripped out of a deep sleep prematurely. Slowly being nudged awake over time, as the sun rises, is a much more peaceful way to wake up. A recent update to the LIFX companion app added sunrise and sunset schedules to the mix.

To set your lights based on the sun's movement:

  • Open the LIFX app on your phone and select New Schedule.
  • Provide a name for the schedule and select Start Time. Rather than setting a specific time, select With the Sun at the top of the display. This will let you choose your current location or set another location using a map.
  • Select either sunrise or sunset, then choose whether you want the start time to be before, on or after sunrise or sunset. You can choose to have your lights toggle up to three hours before or after the sun rises or sets.
  • Choose which lights you want to set on this schedule and whether you want the lights to turn on or off.
  • Set the color and brightness for the lights, and choose how long the fade duration should be.
  • Select save.

Silent alarm

Let your LIFX bulbs notify you when motion is detected by your security camera

If you use security cameras (or happened to put your old iOS device to use as a Manything camera), LIFX can work as a silent alarm when your cameras detect motion.

  • Log in to IFTTT and create a new recipe.
  • Select Manything (the Camio, SmartThings, iSecurity+, iSmartAlarm, Scout Alarm, RemoteLync, Netatmo Welcome and Sighthound Video channels also work), set motion detected as the trigger and select a device.
  • Choose LIFX as the action channel and choose breathe or blink lights.
  • Select which lights you want to work with this recipe, set them to turn on first, and set the color, brightness and number of blinks.
  • Click Create Action.

When motion is detected in your security camera's view, your smart lights will blink or breathe to let you know, silently.