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NASA and Ex-Tesla Engineers build a smart light bulb

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Neil Joseph, an ex-Tesla supply chain engineer, left his job to start his own lighting company.

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The idea struck him when he was sitting in his chair in his Silicon Valley office one sunny day and noticed that the lights were on with full power while there was sunlight coming through the window.

He went online to search for better and responsive bulbs but only managed to get a few expensive commercial products.

The company that he named Stack has produced smart bulbs he calls Alba (Alba is an Italian word for sunrise).

The bulbs work autonomously by adjusting light output based on sunlight and by learning and adapting to its user’s household habits.

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Alba is smarter than the usual drugstore variety and can sync with a smartphone app and even keep rhythm with a song. But it is neither as smart as the Nest Thermostat nor even as sharp as Google Maps.

Alba has sensors for occupancy, motion and ambient light. Joyi Gacusan, a co-founder, created a new core technology because Alba had to both read and react to ambient light. Joyi Gacusan worked on sensors at NASA.

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“If you think about noise-canceling headphones, we have to cancel out the light being emitted by the light itself to understand how much light is in the light source,” Joseph says.

This has resulted in a light bulb that can play around with natural light and hence use 60 to 80 percent less energy than a regular LED bulb.

Each Alba bulb contains a Bluetooth module. The hardware is already poised to start connecting to other smart gadgets.

Currently it is being used to track users and their movement patterns around the house. It is sold as a starter kit with two bulbs for $150.

Stack will become a big thing since every home must have bulbs and everyone wants to save on the power consumption.

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