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GE emphasizes benefits of connected homes with app-linked LED bulb

General Electric Co. is shining a light on mobile?s role in the brand?s vision of the connected home with a new LED bulb that links to a mobile application and enables consumers to remotely control their home lighting from anywhere by syncing with their smartphones.  

The ?Link? bulb will be sold at Home Depot stores for under $15 starting this fall and can be pre-ordered online. GE also updated its year-old Wink app with a new program called the Hub, which allows a host of devices that operate on Bluetooth and other wireless systems to connect to a single hardware system. The project shows how companies are increasingly setting their sights on a connected home experience as mobile plays a bigger role in the way we live.

?This is one of the first steps in giving consumers flexibility with their lighting and having the ability to create that customized experience in their home,? said Megan Lavelle, North American consumer-communications lead for Cleveland-based GE Lighting.
?Ultimately, consumers will be able to tune or adjust their lighting to their preference,? she said.

Smart-home benefits 
The app, to be released July 7, will be available for iOS on Apple?s App Store and for Android on Google Play. It eliminates the need for costly add-ons typically associated with connected devices, GE said.

Wink, produced by GE-backed startup Quirky, currently connects numerous GE/Quirky smart-home products over a Wi-Fi network. The products include Aros, a window air-conditioner that gathers information about a budget, location, schedule, and usage and learns to maintain the perfect temperature and maximize savings for the home.

Other products include a scale that monitors the amount of propane in a tank, a power strip that allows the user to remotely turn power on and off and an egg tray that monitors when eggs in a refrigerator go bad. 

GE, a Fairfield, CT conglomerate, with roots in companies inventor Thomas Edison set up to distribute electricity from his light bulb, has built a mobile marketing strategy on the benefits of owning a connected ?smart home?.
A GE LED bulb with smartphone app that will link multiple household devices.

A connected home can save money, by allowing users who go away for the day and realize the kids left the lights on to switch off the lights from a smartphone, trimming an energy bill. It also lets users customize living spaces by creating personal lighting themes. Smart homes also let users away on vacation turn on specific lights to give the appearance that someone is home.

?In the kitchen, if you?re cooking and prepping dinner, if you want a crisper light and when you?re ready to sit down and have a meal you can have that warmer candlelight dinner for entertaining,? Ms. Lavelle said.  ?You can have a pre-programmed feature on your mobile device where with a press of the button you have preset programs for a customized setting on your phone.?
Smartphone explosion
GE?s link to Wink is seen as embracing the way of the future. Analysts expect there to be 50 billion connected devices and eight billion people by 2020. In April more than 167 million US residents, about 7 out of every 10 people, owned a smartphone, ComScore reported.

 ?It?s an open platform and it enables you beyond lighting to connect other devices such as security, or thermostat,? Ms. Lavelle said. ?There?s an inner operability that the Wink platform allows for.? 

Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Marketer, New York.