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Light Bulbs

GE Lighting jumps in with Apple HomeKit

GE's new color tunable smart LED bulb will be HomeKit-ready when it launches later this year.

The existing, fixed color temperature versions of the Align LED. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

NEW YORK CITY -- You can add GE to the list of companies hitching themselves to the launch of Apple HomeKit, with a new HomeKit-enabled smart LED due out by the end of the year.

Building on GE's existing brand of Align LEDs, which offer fixed color temperatures aimed at helping you wake up in the morning and wind down in the evening, the new HomeKit-enabled bulb is fully color tunable. That means you'll be able to use your phone to dial the color temperature up from a warm, amber glow to something higher, hotter and more bluish in tone. You'll also be able to automate those changes to happen automatically throughout the day -- an approach that makes a lot more sense than buying separate bulbs with different, fixed color temperatures.

Beth Comstock speaks at an event in New York City. Ry Crist/CNET

With HomeKit's promise of simple, streamlined smart-home control in play, you'll also be able to tell Siri when you want a lighting change, with the virtual assistant taking things from there. Beth Comstock, president and CEO of GE Business Innovations, also points out that HomeKit will make it easier to use the bulb in tandem with other devices, like sensors and thermostats.

"I think it's early days," Comstock said of the smart home at an event today in New York City, "but it's moving fast. The light bulb is a way for it to move faster."

This won't be GE's first smart LED. Last year, the company released the Link LED , an automatable, low-cost bulb with built-in Zigbee smarts. That bulb launched with strong ties to the Wink smart-home platform, though it soon offered compatibility with other platforms, too.

As for the Align LED, it'll be competing with other color tunable smart bulbs already on sale, including the bulbs you'll find in the Osram Lightify LED Starter Kit . There's no word on bulb specs or pricing yet -- though I wouldn't be surprised to see it follow the Link LED's low-priced approach.

Ry Crist/CNET

In addition to announcing the new Align LED, GE also welcomed city government officials from San Diego and Jacksonville, where pilot runs featuring connected street and parking lights are just getting under way. Cormac Conroy, vice president of engineering at Qualcomm, was also on hand to announce a collaboration with GE aimed at embedding highly accurate indoor positioning technology into in-store lighting, with goals of generating retail floor traffic insights and offering opt-in customized shopping experiences.