Inspect-a-Gadget is a monthly segment where we feature a tech toy our editors have been playing with.
Oh, smart home: your promises grand, and only – as always – ‘a few years’ away. There’s the milk-ordering fridge, the self-adjusting thermostat and ‘smart’ lights.
Despite corporate commercials, that’s not the home we live in – though some tech has made inroads on the domestic abode, namely color-changing lighting in the form of remotely controlled bulbs.
Of the dozen or so prominent options, the features are similar: dimmable bulbs packing 16 million colors and controlled via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or ZigBee.
After getting hands on with a few color-changing competitors, the Heelight didn’t impress us with what it did, but what it didn’t: no Wi-Fi and no Bluetooth.
Like the telephone systems of the ’60s, the standard-sized bulb is controlled via sound played at specific frequencies – a chirp emitted by your smartphone.
While controllable via mobile-friendly website (scan a QR code and a controller loads in your phone), the app offers more options, ranging from the normal to the naughty: ‘nightlight mode’ brightens with the sounds of your stirring, while ‘sex mode’ sets the bulb at a red glow, adding color to your... louder moments.
Yes, the Heelight reacts almost instantly to audio, but being sound-centric comes at a price: commands from your phone might go unheard in a loud room, forcing you to turn off the music to adjust the bulb.
Overall, the Heelight is fun, and at times legitimately useful – though it won’t have a place next to the robo-butler, if he ever gets here.
RMB48 on Taobao.
Click here for more Inspect-a-Gadget.