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Smart lighting gizmo offers video chat, gesture support, and Alexa

Feb 8, 2017 — by Eric Brown — 1380 views

The Linux-based, $149 “Brilliant Control” smart lighting controller has a wall-mounted, 5-inch screen, Alexa voice support, motion control, and video chat.

Most home automation devices are controlled exclusively through a mobile or web app, but there’s a growing trend toward wall-mounted displays as well as voice interaction. The new Brilliant Control device from San Mateo startup Brilliant offers all three, as well as motion control and physical touch sliders.

The Linux-based smart lighting controller is primarily directed from a 5-inch, 1280 x 720 smartphone-like touchscreen that replaces the light switch. In configurations for more than a single switch, the screen is accompanied by touch sliders. You can also use an Android or iOS mobile app, Alexa voice support, and gestures. A built-in video camera and microphone support room-to-room video chats.

Brilliant Control in 3-switch (left) and single-switch models
(click images to enlarge)

You need to buy a controller for each room with lights you want to control, but once you do, a single controller can control all the other controllers in your house. The Brilliant Control will retail for $199 apiece when it ships in late summer, but it’s now on discounted pre-order starting at $149.

Because the device is compatible with major home automation product lines, you can control much more than just your lights. The device interacts with SmartThings and Wink hubs, and is somewhat similar to the wall-mounted Wink Relay.

Brillant Control also works with dozens of other devices and services including Nest, Philips Hue, Ring, Ecobee, Honeywell Lyric, and various security systems. “For example, if you have a Ring doorbell, we can pop up an alert and video feed from the doorbell right on the Brilliant Control screen, and give you the option to open a smart lock through a Wink hub,” explained Brilliant’s Chief Product Officer Scott Dunlap in an email. Dunlap added that the device offers out of the box discovery and control of Sonos and Bose Soundtouch music systems.

Notwithstanding its embedded Linux underpinnings, this is a consumer-oriented product with currently limited programmability and no support for open IoT standards like AllJoyn or IoTivity. The wallmount interface and mobile app provides an app that lets you use IFTTT to schedule lighting changes and create “scenes.” The latter “instantly set the mood in each room for waking up, dinner, or relaxing,” says Brilliant. These can combine multiple actions, explained Dunlap, such as “lights to 50%, play this Spotify playlist on the Sonos, display this motion art on the screen.” Dunlap added: “We will have some API access so that third parties can control the capabilities of the Brilliant Control, similar to IFTTT.”

Alexa onboard

Brilliant Control is part of the trend toward voice controlled home automation, in this case enabled with built-in Alexa voice assistance. Alexa can spout off weather forecasts and sports scores, or let you add items to an Amazon shopping list, among other services. Programmability is also available via a Brilliant Alexa skill.

“We are an ‘end point,’ so we are all the hardware you need to have Alexa in the room,” said Dunlap. “It’s an easy and seamless way to get Alexa throughout your home without having specific devices taking up shelf space and outlets.”

Brilliant Control interface screens for controlling Sonos (left) and Honeywell Lyric
(click image to enlarge)

Each Brilliant Control device consists of a module that fits inside the electrical gang box, as well as a touchscreen-equipped frontplate that come in four sizes for up to four switches in a row. The device, which can be installed in 5-10 minutes, is available in more than 12 colors and finishes, says Brilliant.

Most of the internal specs are undisclosed, but the device provides 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth, as well as a video camera that was thoughtfully equipped with a privacy cover. Also onboard are a microphone, ambient light sensor, and a motion sensor that lets you turn lights on and off with gestures.

The cameras are primarily designed for room to room video chats, but can also be used for in-house baby monitoring. The company plans to add remote mobile app video support in the future.

There’s no local or cloud storage of video and audio, but the company may add additional security and surveillance features in the future, said Dunlap. The cloud component is used for the Alexa service and to push out new updates as well as features such as seasonal motion art for the touchscreen. Brilliant Control will continue to function if you are disconnected from the Internet, added Dunlap.

Further information

Brilliant Control is now available for pre-order, and will ship in late Summer 2017. The device will retail at $199, but the first thousand products will be sold at discount: $149 for a device that replaces one switch, $199 for two-switch, $249 for three, or $299 for four. There do not appear to be any volume discounts. Brilliant Control will be demonstrated at the newly remodeled Target Open House, which will reopen to the public on Feb. 10 at 115 4th St in San Francisco. More information may be found at Brilliant’s website.


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