Latest Sony gadget sheds light on smart homes

Whether viewed as a bright idea or simply a gimmicky gadget, there is no denying that Sony has tried to think of everything with its latest smart home product.

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The Sony Multifunctional Light is set to go on sale in Japan later this year and when it does it will be the smartest smart light available.

It can illuminate a room in any color of light available on the visible spectrum. It doesn't need a switch because its sensors know when someone's in the room. Those sensors can also track temperature, sound and humidity and pass on this information to other devices such as air conditioning and thermostat units.

And because it knows when someone walks in, it can turn the television on and then be used as a speaker system for enhancing the viewing experience.

But if that person is an uninvited guest, the overhead light doubles as a burglar alarm.

With the accompanying app it also serves as an intercom system for the entire home and for receiving voice commands regarding other gadgets under its control. It even has a microSD slot.

ABI Research says, in a report out this week, that over the course of 2016, the sales of individual smart home devices are set to double year-on-year and that by the end of the decade, many of us will already be paying for an entire smart home services package just as we currently do for internet connection or utilities.

"As the smart home functionality continues to push into new homes, vendors are benefiting from initial device and system revenues but the goal is to bring these sales into long-term recurring revenue services," says Jonathan Collins, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. "Managed smart home system pricing, like traditional home security services, is geared to win new consumers with reduced device and equipment sales in return for long-term recurring revenues."

The company notes that service providers are already taking established devices like Nest Thermostats or Philips Hue lights and bundling them as an integrated package.

If this trend continues, then a device like the Multifunctional Light or Amazon's Echo could soon be seen as the ideal unobtrusive hub for controlling such packages.

Whether or not ABI's forecast is accurate, Sony's smart light suggests that companies are increasingly looking beyond smartphones to other electronic outlets to channel their creativity.


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