Has the Internet of Things arrived at last in the shape of a Philips box available for $199 from the Apple store? Perhaps. And for once. I am inclined to agree with a company executive when he says this is a "gamechanger."
Still, the advent of wireless, IP-addressable LED light bulbs in a box begs many questions. The technical ones are fairly straightforward.
Philips has engineered a system called "hue," a necessarily complex system requiring multiple, colored LED die, driver ICs, microcontrollers, ac-to-dc voltage converters, wireless transceivers, ZigBee and thousands of lines of software. All this complexity replaces a simple evacuated glass envelope enclosing a strand of engineered metal.
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The complexity does allow the digital control of the color and brightness of household lighting via a connected tablet computer or smartphone anywhere in the world. The scenario also assumes the homeowner also has a Wi-Fi router.
It sounds appealing and looks so seductive in the box, especially since it costs only $199. That's relatively cheap considering the promised functionality. It also is probably no coincidence that a hue LED light bulb is finished in brushed metal and glass just like an Apple iPad.
Still, the social questions raised by hue may not be so easy to answer as the technical ones.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.