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Smart lighting stalwart Lifx reemerges with a new line of outdoor lights

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Lifx has a new outdoor line of smart lighting that supports Matter. | Image: Lifx

If you’ve been around the smart home for a while, you’ll remember Lifx. One of the first smart lighting companies, Lifx was Philips Hue’s main competitor in its heyday, both being known for high-quality products and compatibility with all the major platforms. But over the last few years, the Australian-based company and its Wi-Fi smart bulbs have struggled, almost going out of business in 2022. Now, Lifx is back, and it’s promising to be better and brighter than ever.

Purchased by US-based Feit Electric early last year, Lifx now has an influx of cash and a robust distribution network to lean on and is ramping up for a big 2024. “Two years before the acquisition, we had one product launch; in the next 18 months, we’ll be launching 11 to 12 new products and updating our line to support Matter,” says Mark Hollands, chief technology officer of Lifx, in an interview with The Verge.

First up, the company is branching into outdoor lighting, an area Philips Hue has had a lock on for a number of years. The launch includes new Wi-Fi-powered outdoor string lights, path lights, spotlights, and an outdoor flex light strip (an indoor light strip launched late last year).

 Image: Lifx
Lifx’s new outdoor spotlight (left), neon flex light strip, and string lights all over Lifx’s signature vivid colors and tunable white lights.

Here’s a look at the new outdoor lighting line from Lifx, which is available to buy starting February 28th at The Home Depot (online and in-store, US-only). All the products work with the Lifx app for creating scenes using the lights’ full array of colors, tunable white light, and ability to blend colors across zones:

 Image: Lifx
Lifx’s outdoor string lights have a modern, angular look.

In the past, a big selling point of Lifx lights over Philips Hue was that they don’t require a proprietary bridge since they work over 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. However, today, there are dozens of inexpensive Wi-Fi smart bulbs from well-known brands such as Wiz, Govee, and Meross.

Lifx believes it can stand out from the crowd with its superior color rendering, smooth color blending, and unique ability to maintain brightness levels in color as well as white light. Lifx has been known for these features, and Hollands says the new products build on that heritage while bringing brighter colors and whiter whites. The new lights offer an impressive range of 1,500 to 9,000 Kelvin for the tunable white light, bringing a wider range of brighter whites. By comparison, Hue’s lights range from 2,000 to 6,500 Kelvin.

Lifx’s outdoor lights will support Matter-over-Wi-Fi, making them compatible with Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple Home, Samsung SmartThings, and any other Matter platform. Hollands says all the new launches this year will support Matter, and the company is working to upgrade existing products to the new standard — including its beam, light strips, and smart switches.

 Image: Lifx
Lifx’s new outdoor neon light strip.

However, Hollands says it’s unlikely the company will get Matter to work on the older Lifx bulbs, “Matter is very resource-heavy,” he says. The company plans to retool the older products, launching new versions with new features and higher lumens where possible. He confirmed the company will continue manufacturing its entire line, including the signature E26 / A19 and BR30 bulbs. But a few niche bulbs, such as the infrared night vision light and germicidal light bulb, are being discontinued.

Lifx’s new lights will work with both the Lifx Wi-Fi protocol and Matter-over-Wi-Fi, meaning you can still use Alexa, Google, and SmartThings through the cloud for more advanced lighting control. However, the new products will not work with HomeKit, instead working with Apple Home through Matter. This means you will be limited to Matter’s existing features if using the bulbs through Apple Home, but you can use the Lifx app to access things like dynamic lighting scenes.

You might want to retain those cloud integrations because Matter’s lighting features are still limited to basic on / off, dimming, and color changing; there’s no support for scenes or dynamic lighting in the new smart home standard. Hollands says it’s coming soon, though.

Lifx is part of the lighting subgroup in the Connectivity Standards Alliance, the group behind Matter, and Hollands says the team is hard at work on dynamic lighting. ”It will be in an upcoming spec,” he says. “We want to see it adopted, and the ultimate goal is dynamic lighting working across different brands in one platform.”

Hollands says Lifx has also explored adding the wireless protocol Thread to the line. “We looked at Thread very carefully we don’t have anything to announce today, but we are looking at adding Thread support.”

This new fight in Lifx is a great sign for the smart home. More choice is always a good thing, especially on the higher end, where Philips Hue has been largely unchallenged for a few years now. Lifx products are expensive but worth considering for those who value excellent color clarity and brightness, features the company has long been associated with and that I expect to see continued in its new lights.

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zipcube
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Daily Telescope: Finally, we’ve found the core of a famous supernova

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Webb has observed the best evidence yet for emission from a neutron star at the site of Supernova 1987A.

Enlarge / Webb has observed the best evidence yet for emission from a neutron star at the site of Supernova 1987A. (credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, et. al.)

Welcome to the Daily Telescope. There is a little too much darkness in this world and not enough light, a little too much pseudoscience and not enough science. We'll let other publications offer you a daily horoscope. At Ars Technica, we're going to take a different route, finding inspiration from very real images of a universe that is filled with stars and wonder.

Good morning. It's February 26, and today's image highlights the core of a (relatively) nearby supernova.

In the astronomy community, SN 1987A has somewhat legendary status. The first observable light from this exploding star in the Large Magellanic Cloud reached Earth in February, almost 37 years ago to the day. It was the first supernova that astronomers were able to observe and study with modern telescopes. It was still discussed in reverent terms a few years later when I was an undergraduate student studying astronomy at the University of Texas.

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Final images of Ingenuity reveal an entire blade broke off the helicopter

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An image of <em>Ingenuity</em> captured by <em>Perseverance</em>'s SuperCam RMI instrument.

Enlarge / An image of Ingenuity captured by Perseverance's SuperCam RMI instrument. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/Simeon Schmauß)

It has now been several weeks since NASA's tenacious helicopter on Mars, Ingenuity, made its final flight above the red planet.

This happened last month. On January 6, Ingenuity flew 40 feet (12 meters) skyward but then made an unplanned early landing after just 35 seconds. Twelve days later, operators intended to troubleshoot the vehicle with a quick up-and-down test. Data from the vehicle indicated that it ascended to 40 feet again during this test, but then communications were ominously lost at the end of the flight.

On January 20, NASA reestablished communications with the helicopter, but the space agency declared an end to its flying days after an image of the vehicle's shadow showed that at least one of its blades had sustained minor damage. This capped an end to a remarkable mission during which Ingenuity exceeded all expectations.

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zipcube
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Age of Empires 2 gets another expansion 25 years later, and deservedly so

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Cover artwork for Victors and Vanquished expansion to Age of Empires II

Enlarge / A battle between Ragnar Lothbrok and Oda Nobunaga was unlikely to occur, given the roughly 700 years between their existences. But Age of Empires is a limitless canvas. (credit: World's Edge)

Real-time strategy (RTS) games aren't getting many new titles or mainstream attention these days, but that need not be a problem. Age of Empires 2, one of the best games in the genre—and some would say of all time, period—continues to be playable on modern systems and is even getting new expansions.

Victors and Vanquished gameplay trailer.

Victors and Vanquished, an expansion for Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition, arrives March 14. It adds 19 scenarios to the base game, allowing you to play as, among others, Oda Nobunaga, Charlemagne, and Ragnar Lothbrok. The campaigns are inspired by the deep community around Age of Empires but spiffed up with voice acting, music, bug fixes, and "quality of life improvements." Some new mechanics show up in the scenarios, including population migration, political decisions, assassinations, and more. It's $13 on launch day, works with Xbox Game Pass on PC (where AoE2: DE is included), and it's on sale for preorder at about $11 until launch.

Developer World's Edge Studios has offered up five expansions for AoE2:DE since its 2019 release, including the Return of Rome DLC in 2023 that shuttled in the civilizations from the original Age of Empires. A big chunk of their inspiration comes from the community. And a huge chunk of that big chunk is Filthydelphia, who had been turning out campaigns like "Kings of West Africa" and "Francis Drake on the Spanish Main" for years. Beyond the maps and army configurations, many of the campaigns contain narrative pieces. "City of Peace" involves a young woman murdered in Madinat al-Salaam, and you, the vizier, must find her murderer. Community scenarios like these make up 14 of the expansion's 19 scenarios.

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zipcube
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How would an AI turn out if you raised it like a child?

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Child shaking a robotic hand.

Enlarge (credit: selimaksan)

ChatGPT, arguably the most famous chatbot ever, learned its sometimes human-like conversational skills by parsing through absurd amounts of text data—millions of books, articles, Wikipedia pages, and everything else its creators could find by crawling around the Internet.

But what if an advanced AI could learn the way a little kid does, without reading 80 million books or looking at 97 million cats? Just making its first baby steps exploring an amazing new world under the patient guidance of mom and dad. A team of New York University researchers just gave it a shot, and it kind of worked.

Childhood memories

“The big thing this project speaks to is this classic debate on nurture versus nature. What is built into the child and what can be acquired through experience out in the world?” says Wai Keen Vong, a researcher at the NYU Center for Data Science. To find out, Vong and his team pushed an AI algorithm through the closest possible equivalent of early human childhood. They did this by feeding it a database called SAYCam-S, which is filled with first-person video footage taken by a camera strapped to a baby named Sam, recorded while Sam was doing usual baby things between the sixth and 25th month of his life.

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Cops called after parents get tricked by AI-generated images of Wonka-like event

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A photo of the Willy's Chocolate Experience, which did not match AI-generated promises.

Enlarge / A photo of "Willy's Chocolate Experience" (inset), which did not match AI-generated promises, shown in the background. (credit: Stuart Sinclair)

On Saturday, event organizers shut down a Glasgow-based "Willy's Chocolate Experience" after customers complained that the unofficial Wonka-inspired event, which took place in a sparsely decorated venue, did not match the lush AI-generated images listed on its official website (archive here). According to Sky News, police were called to the event, and "advice was given."

"What an absolute shambles of an event," wrote Stuart Sinclar on Facebook after paying 35 pounds per ticket for himself and his kids. "Took 2 minutes to get through to then see a queue of people surrounding the guy running it complaining ... The kids received 2 jelly babies and a quarter of a can of Barrs limeade."

The Willy's Chocolate Experience website, which promises "a journey filled with wondrous creations and enchanting surprises at every turn," features five AI-generated images (likely created with OpenAI's DALL-E 3) that evoke a candy-filled fantasy wonderland inspired by the Willy Wonka universe and the recent Wonka film. But in reality, Sinclair was met with a nearly empty location with a few underwhelming decorations and a tiny bouncy castle. In one photo shared by Sinclair, a rainbow arch leads to a single yellow gummy bear and gum drop sitting on a bare concrete floor.

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dreadhead
2 hours ago
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This is what AI is really for.
Vancouver Island, Canada
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