Imagine a product that combines room lighting with wireless speakers. I envision these devices to be about ten inches tall. Sit them on a shelf or desk, or on their own optional floor stands. I'll call these devices Atmospeakers because they create the atmosphere for the room, both in sound and lighting. If you get the lighting and sound right, any room can feel special.

I want my Atmospeakers to have four lighting modes.
  1. Artificial LED candle mode
  2. Back light mode to accent a wall (with color options)
  3. General room lighting similar to a 60-watt bulb (full spectrum to avoid sadness)
  4. Art light: a focused light that can be aimed at a poster or art on the wall.
I want my Atmospeakers to have motion detection so they spring to life when I enter the room. A default radio station or other source will begin playing and the accent lights would power up as soon as my smartphone is detected in range. Working with a companion app on my phone, the Atmospeakers might greet me by name and optionally give me a random compliment when I enter.

I want my Atmostpeakers to be integrated with my phone's alarm clock function. When it's time to get up, the system plays the music or nature sounds you like while the lights gently get brighter.

When I get a text or phone call, I want the Atmospeakers to alert me by blinking.

When I make a Skype call, I want the Atmospeakers to be my speakers but also my microphone so I can walk around the room and the nearest one intelligently takes over while the others ignore me.

I want my Atmospeakers to know where I am sitting in the room, by triangulating my Bluetooth signal, so they can adjust their sound to optimize for my location in the room.

I want a smartphone app to control the Atmospeaker's lights and sound and to program the modes for various times of day. The lights should have different color options both for the artificial candle mode and for the back light. And of course the sound levels should be controllable by app.

I want my Atmospeakers to be so smart that you can add a third and fourth speaker and the new ones learn how to act from the ones already in the room. Just plug them into the wall and they are ready to go.

I want my Atmospeakers to have a rechargeable battery so you can just pick one up and take it with you outdoors or to another room. Perhaps they are smart enough to know what time it is and recharge at night when electric rates are low while using batteries during the day when rates are high.

I want my Atmospeaker to have a USB charging jack and a regular outlet as well so I can charge devices without looking for the wall outlet.

I want my Atmospeakers to have a headset jack. If any one of the Atmospeakers detects a headset jack in it, the others know to go silent.

One Atmospeaker is all you need to start. Let's say each one has internal stereo speakers to fill a room. But the more Atmospeakers you add to the room, the better the sound and lighting. Most people would aspire to having four in a room.

Imagine a companion app just for the parents of kids who have Atmospeakers. When it's time for dinner, the parent app can override the system and cause the lights to blink. Perhaps the parent can also create a voice message that plays in the kid's room, such as "Go to bed" or "Come to dinner."

Perhaps the Atmospeakers are designed to allow third-party add-on apps to work with it.

Now imagine the Atmospeaker has Apple-class design. The thing just looks magnificent sitting there.

This feels like a new product category to me. One can quibble with the specs, but doesn't it seem as if there is something here?

[Update: I'm wondering if the problem most people seem to have understanding analogies is the same thing prompting so many of the comments to say something like the Atmospeaker already exists while providing links to things that are very different. In my world, a car is different from a wheel. The iPod is different from the Walkman. And a sharp stick is different from a nuclear warhead. If those things all look the same to you, you have a problem. -- Scott]
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Feb 24, 2014
I think you can probably do a lot of this now with Raspberry Pi and some coding experience and the sensors to do that. It would take time but it's probably not expensive.

I am in the process of setting up a third A/V receiver/speaker arrangement and unlike the previous two the current project is for my computer - away from the kids - in the study in the basement. An awesome sound system - for my technology. I like to submerse myself in a mood and I need music and lighting and scented candles to do this.

So I have candles down there and incense burners and shelves and shelves of books and other things I find comforting. But I don't find myself longing for an LED system that is connected to the speakers to do candle light. I have candles and matches for that. And the lights are all adjustable and I can turn them any way I please to create mood. Sometimes old technology is simpler and better than new and this setup doesn't cost me much and it works.

I don't think automating it would improve it - I find I don't need a computer to determine my mood for me. And probably if I did have a computer doing that I'd find it really annoying and turn it off and choose to it myself anyway.
Feb 24, 2014
The speakers are going to have to be of pretty good quality if you're going to avoid vibration issues that would cause the lights to flicker. Then you have to ask yourself "How many people are going to drop good money on a speaker with a light attached." Whether that's the case or not it's the perception you'd need to combat.
Feb 24, 2014
(I'm all about the low hanging fruit...how about threaded comments on the blog before inventing a new light/speaker thing?)

[It's all in the design. 90% right is still totally worthless. The Sony Walkman was 90% right. -- Scott]

I'm not sure where you're going with that...the Sony Walkman was hugely successful, wasn't it? It was certainly a "new product category" at that time, which this has been demonstrated by me and others to not be.

Again, if you can come up with an angle that someone hasn't tried yet, then go for it. But I don't think a dedicated entire lamp fixture (versus something that can be added on to any lamp) is it. The other features you named have a lot of promise, but the basic core feature has been tried, and failed to create a demand or new product segment.
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Feb 24, 2014
p.s. here's a review of another existing product that does this also.

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Feb 24, 2014
I took under 15 seconds to search on Yahoo! (not google) and find this:

Once again it seems you have reinvented the wheel.

As for the interface, your reliance on your apple product line seems to ignore that more than one adult person might live in a house. Which one is higher priority -- just the one who got there first? Seems too arbitrary to be practical. Also, you need to consider cost for the average person. Apple products are notorious for being outrageously expensive compared to the same functional device from other companies.

The idea for add-ons from 3rd parties also opens up a lot of problems, the most obvious of which are the security flaws. Nothing like having an app that tells people no one is home because a 3rd party app couldn't authenticate with someone in the residence.
Feb 24, 2014
the Phillips HUE led bulbs and wireless controller performs a lot of the features you want, when coupled with some 3rd party apps, it can also take sound input and match the music, al-la light shows to your sound. Since they are in home audio as well, I suspect a blending of the features you want in the coming years.
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Feb 24, 2014
This product is already 90% of the way to existing. Speaker lights exist that plug into normal light bulb sockets:

And highly customizeable lighting options exist like the Philips Hue:

Finally, some of the more in depth options also exist in the form of home automation kits that simply provide you with sensors and some basic scripting options. For example, you can get kits with moisture sensors to place in the basement to take action if a flood situation occurs, or temperature sensors to alert you to bring gloves or drive carefully if it's cold enough for ice.

So far nothing has quite nailed the niche perfectly yet. There are competing home automation software standards, and the hardware can be costly. We're getting very close, though, and I imagine that someday soon I'll be able to go to a website and enter basic housing information (# of bathrooms, thermostats, lights, smoke detectors, etc.) and be presented with a customized list of options that I can pick and choose from to customize my house just how I want it.

The only thing that I don't think we'll see is interactivity for any potentially dangerous item in the home due to the possibility of hacking. If someone turns my thermostat up or down 10 degrees it isn't the end of the world, but I wouldn't want my front door lock, gas burners, or other items to be exposed to the outside world.
Feb 24, 2014
Unfortunately, multiple groups have tried similar but less complex (and probably cheaper) versions of this, and none of them have taken off. Sylvania !$%*!$%*!$%*!$% Sharper Image ("Sound of Light"), GiiNii AudioBulb (only one that seems to not be discontinued), Klipsch ("LightSpeaker"), just to name a few. The Sylvania was marketed pretty hard, and was rather affordable ($50/bulb), and even it bombed horribly.

I like the idea, and am interested in something along those lines, but apparently not many people are. ;)

[It's all in the design. 90% right is still totally worthless. The Sony Walkman was 90% right. -- Scott]
Feb 24, 2014
I really like the idea! A couple minor points - A lot of features are tied to your phone. Like a lot of women, my phone is in my purse, which isn't necessarily near me. If say my husband is carrying his phone and I'm not, then the music is going on and off when he walks in and out, and is triangulated for him. And what if there are phone weilding kids in the house? It could get complicated. And the second minor point is that the lights need to be easy to replace. I don't want to toss an expensive speaker because the light went out.

[Whoever is in the room first would be the controller of the system. As others enter and leave, nothing changes. But the "rules" for who controls under what conditions could be programmable by the user. Bulbs would be easy to replace by design. It might even be a stackable design, like a totem pole, where each part is separable and replaceable or easy to upgrade. -- Scott]
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