Rumors circulating online recently that Ikea was to bring its own smart lighting system to market worldwide has proven to be true, with the upcoming release of the Trådfri smart kit. The name itself translates to “wire-free”, and consists of a central hub, a remote controller, and two white-spectrum bulbs. For now it seems that Ikea is concentrating purely on the simpler side of IOT, by only dealing with lighting, but this isn’t to say they wont branch out further if this product proves to be a success. Why, you may ask, would this be more successful than the likes of Philips Hue, or other such rivals? One very simple reason, it is much cheaper.
For those people who are not quite sure whether they want their home to become ‘smart’, a huge barrier of entry to the world of IOT is pricing. After all, if you are on the fence about any product in life, a hefty price tag usual pushes you towards the ‘no’ end of the spectrum before you even consider whether the price might be justified. Ikea have decided to attack the low end of the market, by coming in considerably cheaper than its nearest competitor. For the same price of the Hue starter kit (which is $129) you can get yourself the Trådfri starter kit and still go home with an extra $50 in your pocket. Starting at $79.99, Ikea’s smart lighting kit not only beats Hue in the price department, but crucially comes in considerably cheaper than the psychological $100 mark. For those sitting on the fence with regards to IOT, this is a cheap enough lighting solution to take a chance on.
With it’s main competitor likely to be Hue, it is only fair we compare the Philips system with Trådfri to see which system would suit you. If you are looking for a funky lighting system that can change with you mood, from the dulcet tones of Arabian sand to a Prince-esque purple for the evening, then the Hue lighting system is your only choice. Currently Ikea’s offering only stock white bulbs that can be used in their system, which isn’t to say they won’t change that in the near future (this is Ikea after all), but if you are looking to show off your new space-aged kitchen next month then Ikea can’t help you. Also, if you happen to be an Amazon Echo or Google Home owner, only the Hue system will allow you to interact with it using these voice controlled hubs. Again, this could easily change in the future, but right now Ikea really are concentrating on getting the simple things right before moving on to added integrations (such as the above mentioned devices and IFTTT recipes).
At the moment, the Trådfri system is still very much in it’s infancy, while the Hue app has recently been updated to add even more functionality than ever before. You can even set up a lighting profile based on previous pictures you have taken in the room which is extremely impressive when compared to the Ikea version which at the moment doesn’t even allow you to set a timer for your lights (coming in Autumn 2017). Having said all that, the app does allow you to do most of the things you would expect with your Trådfri system. You can group lights together, change brightness, control each of the lights separately, and create your own mood lighting profiles. When it comes to being outside of the house, the Ikea system is a little bit of a let down at the moment as functionality is basically zero, but it is hard to imagine them not adding to this once they are happy that the basic systems are in peoples homes and working well. The autumn update is when these functions are expected to be added so if you can bare the wait, the fact that the system is only really smart when you are in the house might not be a complete deal-breaker.
Vast footprint and vast scope
The fact Ikea is a retail behemoth should put the Trådfri system in a good position going forward, as the parent company has a huge range of products that could benefit from being integrated. In fact, Ikea already sells a few light panels for the kitchen that utilize the app on your phone and seamlessly blend in functionality-wise with the rest of your smart lighting. When you start to think about how many desk lamps, fridges, bedside cabinets, and shelving units they sell, the possibilities in terms of built-in lighting looks almost limitless. So while this new system may be a little underwhelming at present, this could all change rather quickly should Ikea see promise in the IOT market.
So if you are not quite sure about whether or not you need to connect your home to your phone, the Trådfri system could just hit the sweet spot for price and simplicity. If you are already invested in the world of IOT, Philips still have the extra bells and whistles you will probably need. For more information on the Trådfri system of lights from Ikea, check out their webpage.
images courtesy of Ikea press kit