This week, Sol, a GE lamp embedded with Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service, hits stores. Looking a bit like an annular eclipse of the sun, the lamp, which was named after our closest star, represents the first time the Alexa service will live inside a lighting product without needing the support of a hub or an Amazon Echo. It will allow users to create shopping lists, play music, change the thermostat and even light up lamps in other rooms just by using their voices. “Lighting is such an easy way for someone to start the smart-home journey,” says Jeff Patton, general manager of connected home products for GE Lighting. “Light bulbs are ubiquitous.”
Smart-home technology is already being used by 21 percent of all U.S. households, and another 36 percent are viable future customers, according to an analysis by Strategy Analytics. That market is expected to triple in the next few years as the technology gets simpler. “We believe that once consumers experience the joy of turning out a light simply by ‘asking’ Alexa, they’ll be even more encouraged to try other smart-home features,” explains Charlie Kindel, director of Amazon Alexa Smart Home.
The Sol hopes to be a key player in that growing market. Right now, the internet of things is fragmented and full of connected devices that don’t necessarily connect to one another. But Sol brings multiple functions together in one device. It simplifies the smart-home experience by giving users access to more than 20,000 Alexa skills and enables them to control all of their Alexa-compatible devices.
There’s more. The Sol also comes equipped with a full spectrum of white light so it can be set to bright daylight or used at night to help send users off to sleep. “There’s a lot of science around the magic of sleep,” Patton says. “The Sol can help enhance your sleep cycle. Right before sleep, you want a deep amber-color light. But in the morning, you want that blueish crisp light, which helps keep your circadian rhythms on track.”
As for Alexa, she never sleeps.