Monday, 27 January 2014

Simple but Effective Lighting Behaviour via the IoT

This last weekend, I replaced all those LED bulbs in the kitchen with dimmable ones, and put a dimmer switch in. They are still super-white bulbs, which is ideal for seeing while doing jobs.

But as soon as we first dimmed them down - we hit upon an obvious issue: they're still super-white, only dimmer.

What we would like is for them to go warm-coloured when they're dimmed!

You don't need pure white light if you're not using them to work by, and if you dim them, you normally want to set a softer mood, or make it suitable for relaxing and chatting. White light isn't the right light for that.

Object Net IoT Approach

So obviously, that gets me thinking about the Object Network solution.

The ultimate IoT solution would be to have individual control over each bulb's RGB levels via some decent radio control such as ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth or 6LoWPAN. The state the dimmer switch was in - off, or on and the control level set - could be fed into the I/O ports of a Raspberry Pi which would also terminate all the radio.

The practical, DIY solution? You can buy GU10 RGB LED units that come with an IR controller. It only seems to have limited colour settings, however, but it may be possible to trace the protocol and set any RGB value. You'd need to have a dimmer box containing an IR LED to control the bulbs across the kitchen (don't stand in the way!), and a variable resistor for the control. These would all be wired into a nearby Raspberry Pi's I/O pins via some adaptor circuitry.

The R-Pi would be best in or near the dimmer box, so that it can have a BLE beacon advertising the URL of an object representing the state of the control. This object would sit within a place object (the kitchen) that also has the 3D light objects overhead. The lights may or may not be beacons, too, depending on their technology.

The Magic Bit

Then a simple Cyrus rule in the R-Pi would set all the bulbs to white at maximum control setting, but increasingly to warmer colours while decreasing brightness as the dimmer control is turned down.

You could of course override the control level in the app, or directly set any bulb colour as usual. From the coffee shop or down the garden.

Or you could fiddle with the rules to make the lights go blue and surge like waves instead, when you turn down the control..

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