Month: March 2013

Tooling begins, app demo [video] and batch two opens!

It’s been a pretty massive week here at LIFX, and imagine you’re feeling like us right now, thank religious-entity it’s Friday.

I arrived back from Shenzhen on Sunday afternoon after giving the factory the green light on tooling, and on Monday set a major deadline this week to get the LIFX stack to a point that was easy to demonstrate and show the factory prototype in action.

So, in the spirit of “show don’t tell” I thought it’s time to put together a video update to show you where we’re at.


As you can see things are getting pretty interesting on the development side and our factory is gearing up for production.

We’ve also locked in firm production schedules for our second batch – now available for pre-order and September delivery.

Cheers for following, let us know if you have any questions, suggestions or any queries about batch two logistics- you should have received your email requesting shipping details by now- please contact us if not!

I’ll be back in China in four weeks time to pick-up the first 500 right off the line.

Good to be back.

We touched down Saturday in Hong Kong, made our way back to Shenzhen and have been diving right back into production since Monday. It’s fun to be back, and you almost don’t realise how close you’ve become with a team until you see them again after being away.

Taxi's were hard to find in Hong Kong but somehow we managed.

Taxi’s were hard to find in Hong Kong but somehow we seemed to manage alright.

After a few tea’s with John (the factory owner) we started to discuss the roadmap for the next few weeks and locking in some choices like bulb colors, types of finishing and most importantly the GU10/Downlight.

The trickiest aspect with the downlight is because you have a smaller space to work with, naturally the heat sink is smaller, and as you’ll know from following along heat is our big enemy. The other tricky part is we have to fit all the LIFX technology including control board into a smaller space! The good news however is that the world’s most popular downlight is a 50w (~600 lumen) rather than our 900+ lumen standard bulb.

The reason for this is that down lights are often installed in greater numbers than standard lights. If you’ve got down lights at home, say in the Kitchen, you’ll know exactly what we mean. So with this in mind, we realised the heat sink won’t have to be as big, and that the GU10, doesn’t have to be as bright as the A21 bulb you’ve all seen. We don’t have exact lumens yet, our goal is to 50w which I’m sure we’ll be able to exceed!

This also means when you receive the backer survey you’ll be able to select not only the color of your LIFX bulb, but the type you want. The A21 or the GU10 downlight.

Working with the team on the GU10 downlight design and CAD, before prototyping.

Working with the team on the GU10 downlight design and CAD, before prototyping.

While we’re on the topic of colors, after the survey it’s been decided that the choices will be Pearl White & Gun Metal Grey, which you’ve seen renders but we’ll show you the finished versions of soon. Guy and I even headed to a paint factory nearby today to look all the finishes available and the exact colors we’ll use to create the finish.

In the meantime too, we’ve managed to navigate the tricky process of getting a local sim cards as roaming was becoming a pain, and even managed to get a glimpse of the Children’s umbrella manufacturing business they had going on as a sideline project.

The challenging process of buying a local sim card.

The Sim Card shop also makes and sells umbrellas for Children.

So, all in all, it’s early days into our visit here and I’m keen to get my hands on the solid works prototype of the A21 design this week, and start thermal testing on this GU10 design, but happy with the progress so far.

On the ground this time are myself, Guy, Jake, Dan and Marc and I’m starting to feel like the tour guide as we navigate our way around. It’s great to have a big part of our team here which enables us to get more done, and take ridiculous photo’s of me drinking what I thought was Strawberry Milk, but found out it was Coogee.

Not strawberry milk, but not bad!

Cheers LIFX’ers!

Developers, Developers, Developers

[Guest post by Guy] If you’re a non-programmer then you may want to skip this update- keep your eyes out for some cool, third party apps in the future though!

One of the things we’re looking forward to most about launching LIFX is seeing what interesting apps other developers cook up. Just about everyone in our office codes in some capacity, so we’re pretty keen to get hacking ourselves.

photo

I wanted to take some time to explain how we intend to empower developers interested in LIFX and what to expect in terms of technical capabilities.

We’ve had a very conscious (and instinctive) design goal to avoid undocumented/proprietary protocols, vendor licensing keys and other such shenanigans. Our focus is open standards, speed and extensibility.

In basic terms you’ll have access to our two programmatic interfaces:

1. WAN
We refer to this little fella as “LIFX Cloud” and it acts as an always on, authenticated JSON API for your LIFX lights. Send a command to the cloud server and we’ll relay it to your device(s) wherever they may be. This is perfect for easy integration with third party services such as IFTTT, etc. We’ll be using it ourselves in official apps outside of the wifi network. Commands will be rate-limited to some sane value (tbd).

2. LAN
REST is great in the context of web documents but it isn’t really designed for lean, efficient device comms. As such, we’re using the Protocol Buffers standard (word up, Google) to send messages between devices on the network. This is many times faster/smaller then processing/sending the likes of xml, which is important when you’re planning on light bulbs talking to each other over a mesh network. Naturally, you’ll also be able to talk to LIFX at this lower level- it’s a little trickier to code but the upside is blazing speed and low bandwidth. If you’ve never worked with Protocol Buffers before, you’ll find it very well supported with a [tonne of libraries] [Link https://code.google.com/p/protobuf/wiki/ThirdPartyAddOns ] out there already. In a real world scenario expect the ability to issue a light approx 10 to 30 commands per second.

In the coming weeks we’ll be publishing specific API documentation and some starter libraries (looking at Java, Objective-C and Ruby initially). You’ll be free to develop (and publish) your work without restriction, licensing, etc and we’ll do our best to assist where possible.

Can’t wait to see what you get up to.

All the best,
Team LIFX