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Modlet makes light bulbs go off

imageIt takes a lot to out-cute Doxie, the socially savvy sheet-fed scanner strewn with pink hearts, but the Flash animation on ThinkEco’s site for its Modlet product may have one-upped “her.” One of the products I saw at the CEA Line Shows last week, Modlet plays on the interest in green electronics. It consists of a simple pair of electrical outlets which turn on and off based on a schedule that is set in advance. Modlets communicate with PCs using the Zigbee protocol via a small USB dongle; it seems like an inexpensive and .

Whenever I see products like the Modlet, I get to thinking about lighting and why it has been so difficult to get that part of the amorphous home automation market to take off. A huge part of it is, of course, the difficulty in doing retrofit installations. However, Zigbee radios are small. Isn’t there a way to embed them in the base of light bulbs themselves? If heat is an issue, I would think compact fluorescents or certainly LED lighting would alleviate that. While LED bulbs may be expensive, they are a pittance compared to the labor cost for an electrician to come in and install Zigbee controls in every wall switch.