Definition

smart bulb (smart light bulb)

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A smart bulb is an internet-capable LED light bulb that allows lighting to be customized, scheduled and controlled remotely. Smart bulbs are among the most immediately successful offerings in the growing category of home automation and Internet of Things (IoT) products.

With the integration of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee or a proprietary connection for a home automation systems, smart bulbs can be controlled through a mobile app or a home/building automation hub and individual bulbs can be programmed to change output in a specific manner. The bulb's internet connectivity makes it possible for vendors to use edge computing and equip smart bulbs with additional features like built-in cameras, built-in speakers and presence-sensing capability. Many types of smart bulbs enable the home or building manager to control brightness as well as RBG color.

As with all IoT products, smart bulbs can become an attack vector. This was demonstrated when researchers from security consultancy Context were able to gain a network's password at a 30-meter distance from the targeted smart bulb. As the researchers explained, "Armed with knowledge of the encryption algorithm, key, initialization vector and an understanding of the mesh network protocol we could then inject packets into the mesh network, capture the Wi-Fi details, and decrypt the credentials, all without any prior authentication or alerting of our presence."

To ensure security, it's advisable to research smart bulb products for known vulnerabilities, ensure the vendor's software is up-to-date and  run smart devices on an isolated network that does not permit access to sensitive data.

This was last updated in October 2015

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Why are smart light bulbs one of the first IoT products to catch on with the general public?
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