Ketra’s bright idea brings dynamic LED lighting to affluent smart homes

Ketra LED bulb
Credit: Ketra

The transition from incandescent light bulbs to LEDs improved home lighting in a number of ways. For one, LEDs are more efficient, so even though the upfront cost is higher, the bulbs last much longer than incandescent and use far less energy. LED bulbs also light up to full intensity almost immediately, they don’t produce much heat, and unlike compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), they’re not sensitive to cold temperatures.

Sounds like a slam dunk in favor of LEDs, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Far from it, a startup called Ketra is advancing LED technology through dynamic light, which is light that changes in intensity and color temperature based on the time of day or other factors, such as a special occasion or simply consumer preference. This is not something LEDs have traditionally been good at, especially compared to incandescent bulbs, which change both in color and intensity when dimmed.

Ketra’s claim is that it combines the best of both worlds, thereby eliminating the harsh color and optical issues that plague LEDs while adding the ability to continuously dim in reaction to the amount of available sunlight. These slow and constant shifts in color and intensity allow Ketra’s light system to match external light at all times. Here’s a video that shows the effect compared to a static LED:

Ketra says it’s the first to create a system of fixtures and controls that all work together, having constructed every necessary element from the electronics inside the bulbs down to the software that wirelessly communicates with mobile devices. As a result, Ketra can offer its lighting technology to home consumers, albeit well-to-do ones, whereas previously dynamic LED lighting was cost prohibitive to all but commercial applications.

That’s not to say it’s cheap. Ketra’s lighting scheme is compatible with existing infrastructures and lighting fixtures, but residential customers are still looking at about $1,000 per room, with lightbulbs running north of $100 each. When installed, consumers can use a mobile app to configure things like color, vibrancy, and temperature, as well as program dynamic light shifts. There’s also a wall-mounted touchpad that affords the same conveniences, in case you don’t feel like pulling out your phone whenever you want to make an adjustment.

Why this matters: Only recently has there been much movement in advancing the home lighting sector, and though the shift to LEDs has been a logical one, there remains so much more that can be done. Dynamic lighting may very well be the next frontier, especially with all the potential health benefits. According to Ketra, natural light cycles as nature intended help people sleep better, be more productive, and increases overall wellness. We did a little digging and while we won’t get into the many nuances of natural light, there are several studies that back Ketra’s claims.

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