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An expensive light bulb, or a cheap home security system?

The BeON light bulb.
The BeON light bulb.BeON Home

A high-tech twist is transforming one of the oldest home security systems into the newest.

The light bulb -- an age-old deterrent to burglars -- has been geeked out by a Cambridge startup called BeON Home to learn your lighting habits and replicate them when you’re away, creating the illusion of an occupied home.

If your routine is to light the kitchen at dinner, the living room in prime time, and the bedside for evening reading, BeON bulbs can mimic that sequence automatically.

“It’s like a DVR for your lighting, and it plays back when you’re gone,” said BeON chief executive Alexei Erchak, whose company hopes to raise $100,000 for manufacturing by taking preorders on the Kickstarter crowdfunding website. Bulbs are expected to ship in the spring.


At $199 for a three-pack, BeON bulbs are an expensive way to light a home. But the company is hoping consumers won’t view them as the next in a long line of smart bulbs that can be controlled via smartphone and will instead see them as an affordable way to help secure a home.

Law enforcement agencies routinely recommend leaving a light on when out of the house, since burglars often target homes that appear to be empty. But a steady light might not fool a watchful crook looking for signs of activity, such as lights flicking on and off in various rooms.

Light switch timers can make the ruse more convincing, though a burglar who rings the doorbell to check for a response will quickly detect a lack of movement.

BeON bulbs have built-in sensors that can “hear” the bell and turn themselves on to simulate someone walking toward the door to answer it.

The bulbs look much like their standard, 60-watt brethren -- and screw into regular sockets in exactly the same way -- but are outfitted with computer chips that remember the times when lights are usually turned on. Using the BeON smartphone app, or by flipping a light switch in a special sequence, homeowners can set the bulbs to “away mode” for automatic lighting while away.


Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.