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These smart light bulbs heed iOS, Android devices

The initial bulbs are for industrial use, but manufacturer TCP says it will soon be offering the same CFL and LED lighting options to consumers.

GreenWave Reality bulb with the NXP chipset. Martin LaMonica/CNET

NXP Semiconductors has developed chipsets for CFL and LED light bulbs that allow the devices to be operated remotely via wireless networks and portable devices, the Dutch chipmaker announced this week.

The GreenChip iCFL chipset for CFLs and GreenChip iSSL chipset for LEDs have been adopted by lighting manufacturer TCP.

The bulbs can be turned on, turned off, or dimmed.

Both chips operate at the IEEE 802.15.4 standard, the low-rate wireless personal area network (LR-WPAN) standard for many wireless networks, including ZigBee, used to support home smart meters, smart appliances, and security systems.

But the bulb chipset has a 2.4GHz wireless controller and employs the JenNet-IP platform using a 6LoWPAN mesh-under tree network instead of ZigBee. This allows for a low standby power at about 10 milliwatts, according to NXP. The protocol also allows the bulbs to easily communicate with Apple iOS and Google Android devices, according to the company.

The initial bulbs are for industrial use, but TCP said it will soon be offering the same CFL and LED lighting options to consumers.

GreenWave Reality, meanwhile, is using GreenChip-enabled bulbs running the JenNet-IP software to develop systems compatible with any PC, smartphone, or TV. Its home lighting systems included an option for the bulbs to self-regulate inside a home based on outside lighting conditions, or in conjunction with room sensors to turn off when no one is in the room.

Of course, there is already an Android-compatible LED light bulb in the works from Google itself. Earlier this month it was announced that Google is developing an LED bulb with Lighting Sciences Group that talks to it Android devices via a mesh network wireless protocol instead of using a standard Wi-Fi or ZigBee network.

Google's protocol is open-source, allowing software developers to create compatible applications.

NXP also announced that it plans to release JenNet-IP's software as an open-source license, and that the platform can be used on a large-scale supporting up to 500 devices at once.

Why would anyone outside the home automation business develop applications that turn light bulbs on and off, you say? Think theatrics. One Google demo, for example, had LEDs in a room blinking on and off in conjunction with things happening in a video game.

Update 11:21 AM: This article was updated to include open-source and support info on JenNet-IP.