The people behind Brilliant Control asked a simple question: “Are you tired of digging for your mobile phone every time you want to adjust your smart lighting, music, or climate systems?” That’s obviously a rhetorical question, and their answer is one that is poised to take the exploding smart home market by storm.
The people behind the Brilliant Control were sick and tired of needing their smartphone to adjust lights, play music and do any number of the things that smartphones are now able to do. As they explain, “That’s why we built the Brilliant Control. It replaces an existing light switch to give you and your family easy access to lighting and other smart home products like Sonos, Nest, and more. No mobile app required! Just use touch or voice as soon as you enter the room.”
That simple answer explains the idea behind this new smart home accessory that will hit the shelves in late 2017. (To be accurate it is more like four smart home accessories that are all based on the same design and functionality. More on that in a moment.)
I’m getting ahead of myself though so let me step back. This year is the 100th anniversary of the light switch. In all that time the switch you find in numerous places throughout your home hasn’t changed all that much. Sure, you can get Decora switches that look sleeker, and you can get dimmer switches but, for the most part, a switch is a switch is a switch. The explosion of smart home technology has prompted the need for someone to rethink this ubiquitous device. After all, when you have a smart light or a smart fan, a dumb switch just doesn’t cover it. And while you can use your phone or tablet to control your smart devices, or you can use Amazon’s Alexa to control it by voice, neither of those options is as simple as the good old-fashioned action of flipping a switch. Smart home accessories makers have tried to jump into the mix. For example, I have a Phillips Hue switch in the bedroom so Raina doesn’t have to complain about having to always speak to Alexa to turn on the bedroom lights, and I am reviewing the Logitech Pop switch, but those are somewhat limited in what they can do. Enter Brilliant Control.
The CEO of Brilliant Control was renovating his home and couldn’t find a seamless way to interact with the smart home features he was baking into the residence. He didn’t want to rely on his phone all the time for control, and he didn’t want the hit or miss of depending on voice control. So he decided to create a device that replaces the wall switch and, in its place, puts a smart touchscreen with a microphone, a speaker, a touch screen and Alexa’s smarts. He opted to replace switches rather than have a standalone accessory such as the switch Philips offers for the Hue because the space is already there in the home and, along with it, comes power. That means there are no batteries to replace or charge and the placement of the switch has already been determined as the right place for a control when you enter or leave a space.
The result was the Brilliant Control. It is a smart switch that can be installed in just five to ten minutes. By swapping out your existing for one of these new smart switches you get smart lighting with voice and motion control and much more. The smart lighting control itself can save 5-18% on lighting costs while giving you a new level of control over the lighting in your room. For example, by just swiping a finger up or down on the touch screen you can turn lights on or off, or you can adjust the brightness.
As noted, however, that is just the beginning. The Brilliant Control also gives you control over a bevy of smart home devices. For example, using the touchscreen device that is now in place of your old dumb switch, you can control your Sonos music system, adjust your Nest thermostat and more. You don’t need a mobile app or a phone or tablet because all of the functionality that was once the domain of your mobile device is now sitting nicely on the wall where your switch used to live.
And there’s more.
Brilliant Control also has Amazon Alexa baked into it. That means any room with a Brilliant Control is now ready for you to ask for news, sports, and weather. Hell, you can also use the Alexa feature to “Tell me a joke…” but I warn you… Alexa’s jokes are dumb!
And there’s more.
In addition to a touch screen and a microphone/speaker for use with Alexa services, Brilliant Control also has a video camera. That means any two rooms with Brilliant Control now also have a video intercom system. Those of you who are worried about privacy need not fear … each camera also has a physical privacy cover that can be used to block the video feed from any Brilliant Control.
And there’s more.
The brilliant brains behind the Brilliant Control understand that not all switches are single switches and that not all walls are white. That’s why Brilliant Control will come in multiple colors and are available to replace single, double, triple or even quadruple switch configurations.
- 120 Volt, 5 Amp light control, dimming compatible
- WiFi connected, supporting up to 802.11n
- Bluetooth (to connect Brilliant Controls if WiFi not present)
- 5″ diagonal LCD touch screen, with 720×1280 resolution
- Easy to use touch sliders – just swipe up/down to turn on/off lights, or hold your finger to dim
- High-resolution photos and motion art that displays when idle, featuring date/time clock and seasonal nature scenes that are rotated monthly (you can configure how and when they are displayed)
- Motion sensor, so that lights can be set to go on/off based on when people are in the room
- Microphone and speaker, allowing voice control of lights
- Amazon Alexa Voice Services built-in, so you can ask the Brilliant Control “Alexa, what’s the weather today?” or other Alexa commands once you link your Amazon account
- Camera with physical privacy cover, providing audio/video intercom capability between two or more Brilliant Controls
- Ability to connect to and control supported WiFi-enabled smart home products, including music (Sonos, Bose Soundtouch), climate systems (Nest, Ecobee, Honeywell Lyric), smart doorbells and security monitors (Ring), Philips Hue, and smart hubs such as SmartThings and Wink to facilitate access to smart locks (August, Schlage), and Z-Wave and Zigbee products
- Customizable Scenes that allow you to save your favorite combinations of settings for lights and other connected smart home products (for example, a “date night” that dims lights, plays Jazz on the Sonos, and sets the temperature to 72 degrees on the Nest)
- Over the air updates to software happen automatically, using industry standard encryption
- Ability to manage the Brilliant Control from the Brilliant mobile app, including uploading your own photos (available at shipping for iPhone and Android)
- Ability to access the Brilliant Control through IFTTT, or the Brilliant Alexa Skill
The system requires a 120 Volt single switch gang box, wired to code with load, line, ground, and neutral wires correctly wired (this is what is on the wall behind a standard single light switch.) It also requires WiFi connectivity for the initial setup and for connecting to other smart home devices. It is worth noting, however, that Brilliant Controls will control lights without WiFi.
- Single: 134mm x 80mm x 9mm (5.28″ x 3.15″ x 0.35″) from the wall out, subject to minor changes
- Double: 129mm x 116mm x 9mm (5.1″ x 4.6″ x 0.35″) from the wall out, subject to minor changes
- Triple: 129mm x 162mm x 9mm (5.1″ x 6.4″ x “0.35”) from the wall out, subject to minor changes
- Quad: 129mm x 208mm x 9mm (5.1″ x 8.2″ x 0.35″) from the wall out, subject to minor changes
The entire concept is new, so I thought it might be helpful to include the company’s Q and A here in this news post. It will help you better understand what they are out to do.
- So, how exactly does a Brilliant Control work? Will my family and guests figure this out?: I know, right? Simplicity is very important. We designed the Brilliant Control so that everyone (family and guests in particular) can quickly understand how it works with no training. Once you install the Brilliant Control, you can swipe your finger up/down on the screen to turn on/off lights, similar to how one does with a toggle switch. For our Brilliant Controls made to replace 2-4 switches, just touch the sliders, and the screen will tell you which light you are adjusting. To access other connected smart home products like Sonos or Nest, just tap the screen and you’ll see icons appear that make it easy to navigate in less than 2 taps.
- How does your voice control work? What does it mean that Alexa is “built in”?: Each Brilliant Control has a microphone and a speaker, allowing you to control it using voice commands. You can use our native voice control (“Hey, Brilliant…turn on the lights”), or also access Amazon Alexa Voice Services (“Alexa, what’s the weather today?”). Amazon Alexa “built in” means you can use Alexa without the need for an Amazon Echo or Dot. The Brilliant Control is a great way to have Alexa in any room of your home without the need for a plugged in device.
- What is that thing on the top of the Brilliant Control? A camera?: On the top of the Brilliant Control is the motion sensor, an ambient light sensor, and a camera with a physical privacy slider for added peace of mind. The camera is currently only used for the video intercom between Brilliant Controls.
- Does the Brilliant Control support 3-way or multi-way switching?: Yes, as long as all of the switches are Brilliant Controls you can do multi-way switching. We’ve found it more challenging to work with other 3-way switches, but plan to support that in future releases.
- Does the Brilliant Control support ceiling fans?: As long as your ceiling fan has an on/off switch, then yes we can support it. We do not currently support speed-adjusting ceiling fans.
- Do you support Apple HomeKit?: No, we do not support Apple HomeKit in our initial release. There are some Apple hardware requirements that are prohibitively expensive, so we chose to support HomeKit in subsequent releases.
- How easy is it to install a Brilliant Control?: If you can install a light switch, you can install a Brilliant Control. It’s really that easy! The Brilliant Control fits into an existing light switch gang box, with no additional wiring, modifications, or remote hubs required. On average, it takes about 5-10 minutes to install the device and get it hooked up to your home WiFi.
- Are there any monthly fees, or costs to connect to other devices?: No, there are no monthly fees for a Brilliant Control, and we don’t charge for “drivers” or other software to connect to supported partner products. We do offer some optional services (like upgraded photos and motion art) if you are interested.
- How much does it cost to power a Brilliant Control?: On average, our customers save money from installing a Brilliant Control thanks to motion control and other features that reduce your lighting costs. It typically takes 0.75 KwH per month to run a Brilliant Control. To put that in perspective, if you turned off one 60W incandescent bulb for one hour, you are already saving money. Typically smart lighting can help you reduce your lighting bills by 5-18%.
- What smart home products can I connect with?: We support a wide variety of smart home products and add more regularly. Our primary connection method is to use WiFi for partner products like Sonos, Nest, Ecobee, the Honeywell Lyric, Ring, Philips Hue, Bose Soundtouch and more. If you would like to connect to smart locks like August Lock or Schlage, or already have Z-Wave or Zigbee products, we also support hubs like Wink or SmartThings so you can control them from a Brilliant Control. Amazon Alexa Voice Services are already built in, so you just need to connect to your Amazon account.
The Brilliant Control is available for pre-order, and there is a limited time discount of $50 per switch for the first 1000 customers. Pricing looks like this:
You can learn more here.