September 28, 2022

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Smart lights will use Wi-Fi as a ‘motion sensor’

And it should work on old bulbs, too.

One of the funniest things about the Smart Home is how you can control the lights in ways other than using old light switches. Now Signify – the company best known for the Philips Hue brand – is taking this to a new level with a feature they call SpaceSense.

Briefly explained, SpaceSense is a smart way to automate lighting. Wi-Fi is used here to “detect” that someone is moving in the room. In theory, this should work like a motion detector, but in reality all you need are two Wi-Fi controlled “smart” lights.

WiZ, owned by Signify, is behind the special Wi-Fi functionality, which will be optional for use on the new WiZ app. This, in turn, will only launch at the end of September, so we haven’t been able to properly test this yet.

We also voted WiZ for Best Wi-Fi in the Smart Light Bulbs Public Test last year.

The nice thing about the SpaceSense job is that you don’t need any additional hardware or sensors to detect motion – well, as long as the lights you’re using are compatible with the technology.

Instead, the system uses existing Wi-Fi signals, and simply works so that people moving around a room disable the wireless signals — “like ringing in water,” as Signify describes it.

These disturbances lead to deviations in signal strength, and by measuring and analyzing this, W-Fi lights can detect motion and automatically turn on when someone enters a room. According to Signify, the technology is subtle enough to allow sensitivity adjustments, so that it doesn’t start, say, when a four-claw comes on.

At the same time, it’s not a technology that can be used to pinpoint or accurately track the location in a room.

An advantage compared to traditional motion sensors or cameras is that Wi-Fi lights will be able to detect movements in all directions. And they don’t have to be visible to work.

But at least two such lamps would be needed in the room, as they must be able to work together to detect relevant deviations in signal strength.

Can we use the relatively new Wi-Fi lights with SmartSense?  We don't know yet.  But at least the WiZ app will be new.

What spotlights SpaceSense will be working on isn’t clear at the moment. According to Signify itself, the functionality can be used with “most new products launched after 2021 and all Connected by WiZ products – including the WiZ brand, Philips Smart LED and other private and OEM brands.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t terribly useful, as most candles don’t come with any visible date marks on the box. Even so, there is no guarantee of compatibility.

What we’d rather see is a separate label for the products you’ll be working with, but something like that doesn’t even exist today. The plan is that the WiZ website will eventually have a menu or similar that can show compatible products, but that’s also not clear at the time of writing.

Also note that popular alternatives like Philips Hue and Ikea use the Zigbee wireless standard, not Wi-Fi.

In addition to SpaceSense, WiZ V2 will have a completely new interface that will be more intuitive and require fewer clicks. It should also have less visual noise and provide a “softer interaction with the rooms and your home”.

Well, we hope to know when the app launches sometime near the end of the month. WiZ is also releasing new exterior lighting and ceiling light panels.

Anyway, we look forward to trying out SpaceSense when the opportunity presents itself.

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