Using OSRAM LIGHTIFY LED With SmartThingsBy - 07/19/2016
I’ve been daydreaming of a smart office setup for awhile. One that includes a smart desk and smart lighting that will flash different colors so I’m on top of my Tweets, Emails, and Phone Calls. (Spoiler Alert: OSRAM can’t do any of this.) While Philips Hue is definitely the most well known smart lighting solution, I decided to give the OSRAM Lightify LED a try.
Adding the Bulb to SmartThings
Both Lightify and Hue make a mean full-color bulb. In theory, they both perform the same color changing task, and they both work with SmartThings. But there are two reasons why I purchased Lightify.
First, I purchased the Lightify RGBW (Red, Green, Blue, White) bulb from Amazon for $39.99 while the comparable Hue bulb was $59.99. Price was definitely a factor here.
Second, though they both work with SmartThings, Lightify will connect directly to a SmartThings hub. On the other hand, Hue requires a Philips Hue Bridge. Technically you can connect Hue directly to SmartThings, but this setup is not officially supported, leaving you with two choices:
- An unsupported solution which adds a layer of complexity
- or the addition of a Bridge, which adds both cost and complexity.
Adding Lightify to SmartThings takes seconds. I screwed the bulb into my lamp, opened my SmartThings app, clicked My Home, clicked the + sign, selected “Add a Thing”, Lights & Switches, Light Bulbs, OSRAM, and then “OSRAM LIGHTIGY LED Smart Connected Light A19 RGBW.” Finally, I selected connect now, turned on my lamp, and the bulb flashed a few brilliant colors letting me know it was connecting.
How to Create Lighting Rules
Of course, installing the hardware is always the easy part; getting the software to work as you want is the real challenge. And setting the Lightify bulb to flash colors at my command was no different. In theory, there are four ways to create rules for OSRAM’s Lightify LED: through IFTTT, SmartThings, Stringify, and the LIGHTIFY Gateway.
Rules Through IFTTT
If IFTTT was my only option for rules, Hue would have been the winner. OSRAM doesn’t have an IFTTT channel, Hue does. As such, Lightify can only be used as a trigger through the SmartThings’ channel. Even then, IFTTT can only turn the bulb on or off- yawn. By contrast, Hue has a more colorful channel, literally. Through IFTTT, you can trigger Hue bulbs to change different colors or even random colors. If you want to create a simple rule like, “door open, bulb on”, IFTTT is about as simple as it gets. But for me, this isn’t going to work.
Rules Through SmartThings
Another way to create rules is through the SmartThings app. Within the app, you will find “SmartApps” and a section called Smart Lighting. Using Smart Lighting, you can create lighting automation. You can have the bulb turn on, off, on to a set level, or on to a set color. Unfortunately, you can’t pick any color; you can only choose from 11 preset options (including different shades of white), and you are confined to the triggers available within the SmartThings’ app. They include:
- Switch Turned On/Off
- Button Pressed/Held
- Time: Sunrise, Sunset, Specific Time
- When: Mode Change
Of course with most of these options, you can dig a level deeper. For example, if I have the bulb turn on at sunset, I can specify that I only want this to happen on weekdays.
Though not possible with a rule or automation, you have complete manual control over color through the app and can even adjust from a soft to a bright white. You can also turn the bulb on or off at any time and dim it. The bulb responds to commands sent through the SmartThings app instantly, but, yet again, it isn’t able to provide the level of customization I’m after (i.e. Turn seafoam green when I receive an email.)
Other Control Options
If I wanted to invest more money into the solution, which I don’t, I could try other gateways. The Lightify system works with its own hub (LIGHTIFY Gateway). With the LIGHTIFY Gateway you can create scenes, a schedule, set up groups, and control bulbs individually. The Gateway also offers true control over color. In a YouTube video, they show the process for creating scenes, which includes the ability to completely customize your lighting color. Cool, but still not what I’m looking for.
Lightify works with other hubs too, including WeMo, Wink, Nest (LIGHTIFY Gateway still required), Amazon Echo (requires SmartThings or Wink), Iris, and Logitech. These hubs don’t add anything new beyond what is available with SmartThings, except Echo (which adds voice control). I did attempt to test the bulb with Echo, but I couldn’t get Echo to “discover” the bulb. I probably could have resolved the problem with some troubleshooting, but I didn’t try beyond the basics.
Rules Through Stringify
Sigh. For some reason, my bulb wasn’t being recognized by Stringify. I worked with their support team and found out that the problem is that I have two SmartThings hubs. (May be the same issue impacting Echo?)
Hi Rose – a-ha – two hubs is the key. We’ve experienced problems with SmartThings not returning things connected to a second hub. I’ll reach out to SmartThings and see if they have a solution. As ugly as it sounds, if the second hub were used with a second email/smartthings account, it would work fine.
If you are a SmartThings user, you know that a second account isn’t a good solution. They offered to work with SmartThings on my behalf, but first I asked the million dollar question. If this thing did work, what triggers/actions would it support? Unfortunately, while Stringify supports both LIFX and Hue color bulbs, Lightify is currently supported as a dimming bulb/module only. Though my support hero did dangle a carrot by adding that support for color bulbs through SmartThings should be “coming soon”.
So with that, I hung up my hat.
*Update. Since the time of writing, Stringify was successful in resolving the two hub dilemma. Score one for Stringify, though they still can’t do what I want, yet.*
— Rose Thibodeaux (@Rose_Thibodeaux) July 8, 2016
As I said on Twitter, I’ve been a smart bulb cheapskate and I’ve paid the price. Though OSRAM has a cool bulb, it can’t do what I want – turn blue when I receive an email and pink when someone tweets me. However, the bulb works flawlessly with SmartThings, setup was a breeze, it does offer limited color automation, and you can get lots of pretty colors if you are willing to manually hunt them down within the app. Next stop for me? Philips Hue…
Though I decided not to use the bulb, I still had it plugged in and connected to SmartThings. I’ve since returned it after a Twitter friend led me to an article on ZDNet that points to serious security flaws with Osram’s smart bulbs that could “leave users vulnerable to attack”.