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article imageGE's smart lights can now integrate with Alexa, Google Assistant

By James Walker     Nov 23, 2017 in Technology
GE has announced an update to its smart lights range, C by GE. The company's expanding the system with a network-connected hub that adds Wi-Fi connectivity. The lights can be controlled by digital assistants including Alexa and Google Assistant.
GE said a set of voice services will let you turn the lights on and off individually, command sets of linked lights and control dimming modes using a digital assistant on your phone or another smart device. It's all enabled by GE's new C-Reach hub, a $50 add-on that acts as a bridge between the light bulbs and your smart home.
Previously, GE's C-series lights have offered fairly limited functionality. They couldn't be controlled using an app or another connected device because they relied solely on their Bluetooth connections. The C-Reach enables bulbs to connect over Wi-Fi and exposes new remote control options that make external integrations possible.
Initially, only Alexa and Google Assistant will be supported as digital assistant options. You'll need to purchase the C-Reach bridge and install the relevant assistant skill before you can control your lights with your voice. GE's still working on compatibility with Apple's HomeKit ecosystem to let you control C products using Siri.
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"Using voice to control lighting unlocks an entire new world of opportunities for consumers," said Jeff Patton, GM of Connected Home Product Management, GE Lighting. "There are countless possibilities to add additional conveniences at home through these collaborations [with Alexa and Google Assistant]."
GE offers LED light bulbs for its C products which are specially designed for different environments. These include the warm C-Sleep bedtime bulb to reduce blue light exposure and the smart C-Life bulb. The latter option has adjustable white output to provide "optimal" lighting conditions as you perform different activities.
While the addition of C-Reach makes the C ecosystem more versatile, The Verge notes it also leaves the range a little out-of-place. With its $50 pricing, purchasing the C-Reach and a set of bulbs costs almost as much as starting a more capable Philips Hue-based network.
The Hue also has cheaper bulbs and more out-of-the-box integrations, so C-Reach won't necessarily be a worthwhile new investment. It might be more useful if you've already got some of GE's smart lights and now want to connect them to your Wi-Fi. For Black Friday, GE will offer a starter kit of two C-Life bulbs and a C-Reach for $49.99, reduced from its regular price of $64.99
More about GE, IoT, Devices, Cloud, Alexa
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