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There are 45 lightbulbs in the average home. Because of its unassuming ubiquity, lighting have a distinct potential to be the “glue” of tomorrow’s smart home. So what might this future smart home with smart lights look like?

Well, friendly competition is great fuel for powering innovative solutions, so we partnered with GE and Hackster.io to pose a challenge to the maker community to submit their futuristic lighting ideas in the Lights for Life Challenge.

Nearly 1,000 makers developed connected lighting systems for the home. The winning projects, announced today, all use responsive voice command capabilities, and GE may consider making them into actual products as extensions of the C by GE line. “We believe that by connecting the brightest minds and the deepest expertise with some of the world’s most pressing opportunities – we’re redefining what’s possible,” says Dyan Finkhousen, Director of Open Innovation & Advanced Manufacturing at GE Global.

Using C by GE Bluetooth-enabled LED lights, makers took on the challenge of solving common household occurrences, like how to know when your kid comes home from school while you’re still at work, how to closely monitor an elderly parent, or how to locate your dog when it’s time to go for a walk. The pool of entries considered lighting from every angle — from table and floor lamps to bulbs and Bluetooth devices to voice-activated illumination or lighting triggered by temperature sensors.

GE is developing an app to use in conjunction with C by GE, which users can program to interact with other smart devices throughout their home. Photo courtesy of GE.

GE is also developing an app to use in conjunction with C by GE, which users can program to interact with other smart devices throughout their home. Photo courtesy of GE.

“The average home has 45 lighting sockets, and those will be critical connection points in the smart home,” says Jeff Patton, General Manager Connected Home Products, GE Lighting. “At GE Lighting, we’re working to create a connected home experience that is easy to adopt and maintain. This challenge reaffirmed that the opportunities for lighting in this category are extensive, and we’ll use the winning submissions to inspire our ongoing product development in this space.”

The grand prize winners, listed below, are on site at World Maker Faire New York this weekend to showcase their winning designs.

1st Place: Rohan Pandya, Georgia Tech Student
Pandya’s winning design included a robust set of connected applications within a single light source, including lighting that syncs with personal fitness devices to notify you when you are sitting idle for too long and encourages you to get moving, as well as lighting-based motion detection that syncs with paid security systems.

2nd Place: Scott Thibault, Data Scientist
Thibault’s innovation uses both audio and motion-detection built inside a light source to track activity in the home, enabling the lighting system to understand who is home and where they are at, and then customizes lighting with different color temperatures and other triggers based on that individual’s preferences and habits.

3rd Place: Joseph Hollmann, Researcher
Hollmann, a post-doctoral researcher from Barcelona, as well as a new dad, submitted an idea for a lit crib mobile that uses light invisible to the human eye to detect a baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels to protect against SIDS, providing audio warnings around untraditional readings.