The Qube could be a cheaper, hubless smart bulb for newbies


Startup Qube is hoping to tackle the smart bulb big boys with a new connected bulb that it says will beat them on price and simplicity.

The company just launched an Indiegogo campaign, and has crossed half of its $50,000 goalwithin the first 24 hours.

The bulbs are able to display up to 16 million colors, and can reach a brightness of 800 lumens, or the equivalent of a 60W bulb’s light. They plug right into existing E26/E27 screw mounts.

If Qube successfully enters the market, its bulbs will cost roughly $19 — far more affordable than multi-color bulbs from bigger players like Phillips and Osram, whose bulbs cost around $59.99.

Qube told Mashable that it’s keeping margins slim on purpose, in hopes of breaking into the market.

Phillips Hue is perhaps one of the best known bulbs in the connected market, and is joined by lighting bigwigs like Osram and GE. The space has seen some new entrants this year, like LED bulb maker Cree, for example, which started making connected models in January.

Startup Astro also has a smart bulb called Twist that it debuted in June. The company is trying to get its product to shine a little brighter by building in audio-playing capability that works with the Apple AirPlay system.

To hub or not to hub?

Many of these brands like Cree, Osram and Phillips make their bulbs compatible with connected home platforms like Wink Hub, which supports an array of connected appliances from Nest thermostats to digital door locks.

But Qube’s makers are touting their bulb’s lack of support for these hubs, on the contrary, saying that this makes it simpler to operate.

“Unlike other bulbs that require a hub to work, each Qube has its own Wi-Fi connectivity, hence it has the capability of being its own hub and being able to communicate directly with the router,” they said.

The Qube bulb has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antennas, and are able to communicate with each other to sync actions.

For connected home enthusiasts that want hub-like behavior, however, Qube says the companion mobile app will support platforms like IFTTT (If This Then That), so you can theoretically link the lights to other home appliances or apps. For example, a weather app can trigger lighting changes in reaction to weather forecasts.

Qube is a U.S. spin-off of Singapore startup Innova Technology, and has nine people in its team. The nine have worked on Qube for the past two years.

Innova is perhaps best recognized by its theft-prevention Protag Duet product, a Bluetooth gadget that pairs with phones to signal when the phone moves out of range, thereby alerting the owner to a possible theft.