NXP, a publicly traded semi-conductor company, and Green Wave Reality, an energy management and automation company, have partnered and announced their intention that every light bulb should have an IPv6 internet address.
That’s right, your light bulb will be able to talk over your WiFi in the not too distant future, and the companies involved are ecstatically proclaiming “The possibilities are endless: You could monitor, manage and control every light bulb from any Internet-enabled device – turning lights on and off individually, dimming or creating scenes from your smartphone, tablet, PC or TV – to save energy as well as electricity costs.”
Green Reality has been instrumental in bringing Smart Meters (new, digital electric meters) to households nationwide, with less than universal appreciation.
While there may be legitimate consumer benefits, there are several issues to consider. Such as, from the standpoint of network architecture, having a disposable endpoint as the agent leasing an IP address makes less sense than having the fixture that holds it leasing an address. I want to light the room, and if the light’s burned out or not communicating that’s not gonna happen from my smartphone, pad or PDA.
Another is, what kind of traffic overhead will be produced by all of these internet connected light bulbs? As Internet Service Providers (ISPs, like Charter, Comcast, Time-Warner) look to institute bandwidth caps on subscribers, how will these “intelligent light bulbs” figure into those equations? If your light bulb breaks, will it eat your Netflix allowance for the month?
Finally, there are real privacy issues to consider here. Smart meters are sensitive enough to know not only when appliances and such are used, but based on the amount of power drawn can tell what kind of appliance or device it is and they hang on the outside of the house (or maybe inside the garage). What are the implications of have internet connected devices throughout every room of your house? If one chip to allow communication can be put in, why not others? There’s a war on, ya know?
I’m all for the “next big thing” and really cool gadgets, but this is one I’m going to watch closely. Maybe you should too.
Press releases for Greenwave and NXP can be found below: