There's a relatively strong case for a smarter bedside. It's the place where most of us charge our devices each night, and the place where we seek out a comfortable night's sleep. From a connected perspective, we want things to turn on when we wake up and turn off when we hit the sack, so why not anchor whole-home controls right by the bed?
The Luzi Smart Lamp wants the job -- or rather, all of the jobs. Aside from lighting up the room and telling the time on its programmable LCD touchscreen, Luzi boasts four USB ports capable of powering multiple phones and tablets, Qi and PMA-certified wireless charging smarts, and even a handy charging cradle for Apple Watch owners. The LEDs inside of Luzi can change colors, too, with full RGB control and color temperatures ranging from a warm, orange glow to something hotter, whiter, and closer to daylight. Luzi's team claims that those changes can help ease you into a better night's rest.
On top of all that, Luzi borrows a page from Amazon Echo and uses a built-in microphone to listen to your voice commands, and built-in Bluetooth speakers to talk back. That means you can dim the lights or play your favorite music just by asking it nicely. Luzi also promises compatibility with third party smart gadgets like Switchmate , FitBit and Lockitron Bolt, so you'll be able to interact with your connected home using voice commands, too -- a handy way of making sure the front door is locked before you fall asleep.
So how much does a lamp that smart run for? Unsurprisingly, quite a bit. The makers of Luzi have it priced at a lofty $399, though if you catch the early-bird pricing on Indiegogo when the campaign launches on Tuesday, June 23, you'll be able to get one for $269. That's still an awful lot of money -- more than Amazon Echo, and more than the futuristic Aerelight OLED desk lamp , which also comes with built-in wireless charging capabilities.
There's room for some healthy skepticism, here. Luzi's promising quite a lot, including things like voice control that have proven particularly difficult for tech startups to get right. Ambition aside, crowdfunded smart-home gadgets -- even simple ones -- have been hit and miss, with more misses than hits. For an example of one that's struggled to deliver (literally), look no further than Luzi-partner Lockitron.
I'd also recommend taking Luzi's marketing with a few grains of salt. Shots of a naked iPhone charging wirelessly are a bit miselading (similar footage shows up in Luzi's promo video). Unlike devices like the Nexus 7 and Galaxy S6 Edge , iPhones aren't equipped with native Qi or PMA compatibility. That means you'll need to slap on a special case.
Luzi's got a lot of work to do if it wants to be a smart-home standout. Voice control is a clear connected-home battleground, and big players like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google are already in the game. That means Luzi will essentially be going toe-to-toe with Siri, Alexa, Cortana and OK Google all at once. The window for a startup to stand out might already be closed.
Luzi's creators claim that they're developing their own voice commands for the lamp, but also utilizing third-party software integrations -- including Google's.
Partnerships will likely play a big role in Luzi's efforts. A channel on the free, ever-growing online automation service IFTTT would certainly help, as would compatibility with an existing, established platform like Wink or SmartThings. Luzi comes with a built-in temperature sensor, which might indicate that it has its sights set on the Works with Nest initiative. Of course, all of that is assuming that Luzi makes it to market, which is never guaranteed with crowdfunding campaigns.
Luzi's creators plan to start shipping units out to backers in March 2016. Initially, Luzi will only be available in the US and in Europe, though the Luzi team plans to expand to additional regions by the end of 2016 (that $399 retail price converts roughly to £250/AU$510, while the early-bird pricing comes out to £170/AU$345). We'll keep an eye on it and see if we can't test one out next year.