ComfyLight is a security gadget posing as a light bulb


Startup Comfy is selling its smart light bulb ComfyLight, launching on Kickstarter today, primarily as a security gadget. How exactly can a light bulb keep your home secure? Three main ways, according to Comfy: the bulb houses a motion detector; it flashes if it detects a break-in; and it turns on and off throughout the day to mimic your normal routines, even when you're out of the house.

Most smart bulbs, such as those from LifX or Philips, can be remotely controlled or scheduled when you're out. But Comfy is aiming for a more reliable (and less involved) security setup -- one that automatically mimics light behavior when you're away so as to deter potential intruders.

Comfy isn't the first to do this. BeOn Bulbs, for instance, include similar software that replays learned lighting patterns when homeowners are away. BeOn even listens for your particular alarms and responds to them by flashing or turning on. BeOn's main problem is it foregoes the scheduling features of other smart bulbs. Luckily, Comfy doesn't fall into the same trap: you can schedule, toggle and dim your bulbs from the app.

ComfyLight's second big claim to fame is its motion detector. First off, the sensor will alert users with a push notification if something is amiss (such as movement when no one should be home). It will also automate the lights, so when you walk into a room, they'll flip on.

No smart bulbs have done this, but a few smart plugs have tried. Both the terrible Nyrius and the surprisingly precise Zuli use Bluetooth to track your presence and respond when you enter or exit a room. The difference is, Bluetooth can successfully gauge when you're in a room or just passing by. ComfyLight isn't using Bluetooth; it's using motion detection.

Right now, I'm skeptical. Using motion detection to automate lights could be really cool, but it could just as easily be annoying. If walking through your house flashes a series of lights on and off, for example, that's a problem. Motion detection can also go wrong on the level of sensitivity, as demonstrated by the otherwise impressive Ezviz Mini drop-cam. Eventually, we just turned its motion detection off, because it was sending us push notifications for every shifting shadow.


The Ezviz Mini is an example of motion detection that is too sensitive to be helpful.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Although I like the idea of light automation, I never want my lights to misbehave. That's the tough balance Comfy hopes to strike with its bulbs -- convenience without annoyance.

Looking at some of ComfyLight's features, it might be up to the challenge. One such feature is the "away" reminder: When your phone disconnects from your Wi-Fi as you exit the house, ComfyLight's app will remind you to activate the security mode. Similarly, when your phone reconnects to the Wi-Fi, the security mode will automatically disengage.

If these bulbs really can perform all their smart features well, and introduce these new security options successfully, then the ComfyLight could be a great product. But to be worth its whopping price tag of $140 per bulb (that's about £100 or AU$200), it'll have to be terrific.

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