The Internet of Things Is Coming to Light: An Interview with Corey Egan of Ilumi

The Internet of Things is coming. Fast.

Companies like GE are betting billions on what it calls the Industrial Internet. For its part, Cisco is also betting big.

By 2020, expect a mind-boggling 30 billion devices to be connected to the Internet. We're talking about much more than proper computers, smartphones and tablets here. Doorknobs, garage doors, cars and appliances will all talk to other devices -- and to us. The possibilities are limitless. Of course, you don't have to wait that long to get a sneak peek, though. Just noodle with an IFTTT recipe.

I recently sat down with Corey Egan of ilumi to talk about where we're going and how we're going to get there.

PS: What do you does ilumi do?

CE: We make intelligent LED Smartbulbs to help people enjoy better living through better lighting. In more detail, ilumi Smartbulbs screw in like a regular light bulb and last up to 20 years, but you can also control them through a mobile app. You can adjust the color, brightness, or even have your lights automatically wake you up in the morning with a simulated sunrise or turn on and off as you move around your house.

PS: Why did you decide to start ilumi?

CE: There are a lot of puns that I could use, but it really came down to seeing a disruptive collision in LED lighting and wireless connectivity. In short, the Internet of Things means that we will be able to transform how we interact with lighting. Lighting is one of those things that everyone is familiar with. We understand that it's important and we notice when it isn't "good."

Still, lighting and the way we control lighting hasn't changed for years. When my cofounder and I started the company in 2010, we saw that lighting and the way we control lighting were about to undergo a dramatic shift with light-emitting diode (LED) and the Internet of Things. We felt like it was the right time to redefine and help people achieve better lighting, and that's what we've done.

PS: What do you think about the Internet of Things. Will we all live like The Jetsons in a few years?

CE: I think the potential for disruption is absolutely there and will accelerate at an incredible speed over the next few years. The building blocks in technology are here and only getting better, from wireless, to embedded systems, and the whole connected infrastructure. I think we'll continue to see everyday commodities, routines and simple things completely transformed to make our daily lives more convenient and optimized. I do think the idea of a morning routine where your house just kind of gets you ready is something that we are already getting close to. The real barrier, in my opinion, is how to replicate and scale home automation for the masses. How do we allow for both personalization of an automated experience that directly supports my wants and needs while also not overbearing the consumer with complicated installations, customizations and use?

PS: How does Bluetooth fit into the Internet of Things? Any predictions?

CE: Historically, when most people think of Bluetooth they think of their Bluetooth earpiece or a stereo. But with the advent of Bluetooth 4.0 and now Bluetooth 4.2, the wireless protocol is quickly proving itself to be amazingly useful in the Internet of Things framework and especially the connected home. In my opinion, Bluetooth has a big leg up on traditional home control protocols like Zigbee or Zwave because mobile device and computing manufacturers have decided to directly integrate Bluetooth chipsets into their devices. As a result, you can create a network without having to add another piece of hardware in between. It's also extremely flexible. It can be used in myriad ways.

Fo example, we've created the world's first and best Bluetooth Mesh network to allow for control of multiple bulbs at the same time and extend the range. The best part though is that the protocol and the supporting chipsets are still in their early stages and will evolve substantially over the next few years. For example, the Bluetooth 4.2 specification will allow for direct IPv6 connectivity to Bluetooth so the home router of the future could directly communicate with your ilumi Smartbulbs over Bluetooth. All in all, I think WiFi has it's place in allowing for transmission of large amounts of data and information. Still, Bluetooth will win out at the best method for communicating small amounts of information with a large number of nodes in a wireless network.

PS: What's next for ilumi?

CE: Back to work. We're still working everyday to deliver good lighting to our customers through ilumi in a way that is accessible and simple. So that means better apps, better products and better distribution to get ilumi in more and more folks' homes. We just released a big app update for ilumi that now allows you to activate a circadian program that shifts the color temperature of your lighting throughout the day to promote your body's natural rhythm.

Beyond that, we have a number of other big things planned for 2015. Stay tuned.