Introduction and Component Analysis

 

The Internet of Things (IoT) revolution has sparked an increased interest in home automation. Lighting is one of the major home automation aspects. LIFX is one of the popular crowdfunded companies in this space to have come out with a successful product. The success of their multi-colored LED bulbs brought venture capital funding, allowing them to introduce a new product in their lineup - the White 800. The launch of the White 800 also coincided with firmware v2.00 for the LIFX bulbs.

The initial products from LIFX were multi-color LED bulbs similar to the Philips Hue. The new LIFX White 800 is a white LED bulb with tunable color temperature. Color temperature is an important aspect in the lighting environment. In addition to visual comfort, it also affects human behavioral aspects. Different color temperatures are desirable for different human activities. Therefore, tunable color temperature in a single light bulb is a good thing to have. The specifications of the White 800 indicate 890 lumens of brightness (60W-equivalent),  25000 hours lifetime (22.8 years @ 3 hrs/day), 11 W power consumption and tunable color temperature from 2700K to 6500K.

The first generation LIFX bulbs relied on Broadcom's WICED platform. It also had a TI chip for 802.15.4 mesh networking. However, the White 800 gets rid of the mesh networking aspect and uses the QCA 4002 low-power Wi-Fi platform. This enables a lower price point for the White 800 compared to the other bulbs in the LIFX lineup.

At the heart of the unit is the lighting control module (LCM). LIFX also seems to be targeting this board towards OEMs in addition to using it within the White 800.

LIFX Lighting Control Module (FCC filing)

THe LCM documentation gives more insight into the internal components of the board.

The unit uses a Freescale Kinetis micrcontroller (ARM Cortex-M4-based) coupled with the Qualcomm Atheros QCA 4002. The QCA 4002 is very similar to the AR9330 used in the Ubiquiti mFi devices. The integrated CPU is MIPS-based. It is tuned for low power operation and, correspondingly, lower host CPU performance. The AR933x can run full Linux, but the QCA 400x is targeted towards embedded platforms. In the LIFX, the configuration (QCA 4002) is a 1x1 802.11n 2.4 GHz connectivity platform with the RF switches integrated.

The use of the QCA 4002 software stack on the Kinetis microcontroller allows for AllSeen / AllJoyn certification (the IoT standard backed by Qualcomm). The LIFX White 800 also carries the 'works with nest' logo, thanks to the cloud back-end.

We have looked at the internal hardware in the LIFX White 800. In the next section, we look at what the average consumer sees - the setup and usage process.

Setup, Usage and APIs
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  • badkat7 - Sunday, June 14, 2015 - link

    Also meant to say "the thermal fuse incorporated into all CFL lights". I am having a dyslexic day! Reply
  • leopard_jumps - Monday, June 15, 2015 - link

    PSU rated at 560+W should be banned ! The aim should be power efficiency ! Power efficiency must be introduced and processors like FX 9590 should be stopped . Of course , new AMD mobile chips are quite welcome e.g. FX-8800P ! 500-550W PSU is enough to power a beast PC rig with i7 + GTX 980 Ti . Reply
  • leopard_jumps - Monday, June 15, 2015 - link

    Sorry , the article is about a bulb but my opinion is a thing to think about . Reply
  • PassMark - Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - link

    You did a review on a light bulb, but failed to measure the three most important aspects. The amount of light (Lumens), the quality of the lights (CRI) and the distribution of the light (angle). I won't even mention flicker, humming, RFI, lumen depreciation & dimming (with external wall dimmers).

    Instead you post misleading Lux and CCT figures from a mobile phone. Does anyone think a mobile phone is going to give accurate results?
    Reply
  • taltamir - Wednesday, August 19, 2015 - link

    Now I can fulfill my dream of making it possible for someone to hack my lights /sarcasm Reply

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