Sony leaves no stone unturned with its latest connected-home gadget, a light bulb it will release in Japan in the first half of this year. While its primary focus is lighting, the saucer-shaped light fixture sounds a lot more like a smart hub instead.
Called simply the "Multifunctional Light" (I'm guessing the marketing department was on vacation the week they decided on a name) the light has all the features you'd expect of a smart bulb including remote control, presence-sensing abilities, and a dedicated app. But it doesn't stop there.
The bulb has temperature and humidity sensors, which are used to control heating and cooling. It can also use its presence sensing to turn on appliances such as your television when you're in the room. An integrated microphone and speaker allows you to use the bulb as an intercom system, and it even sports a microSD expansion slot.
Energy efficiency is equally impressive: the entire fixture uses less energy that a 60-watt light bulb: between 42- and 53 watts for the light fixture, and an additional five watts for the control unit that is screwed into the center.
While it might seem like overkill, I have to hand it to Sony for getting creative when it comes to hiding hub-like features in a usable device. Think of your standard smart hub. What does it really do outside of just sit on your desk?
This is the reason why connected home devices like Amazon's Echo and the recently announced LG SmartThinQ hub are getting a lot of attention. Besides the hub controls you expect, they have additional value, whether it be as a speaker to play music, or an digital desktop assistant to organize your everyday life.
Details are pretty slim on the Multifunctional Light, but it seems like you could place units throughout your house, turning it into something resembling the U.S.S. Enterprise. Hopefully the integrated speaker and microphone allow for voice control of the light's features. That would be pretty cool.
No word on availability in the U.S., but I've reached out to Sony to see if they have any such plans. If they do, here's hoping they have a better name for it.