I’m wondering if anyone has experience, or has thought about, using LIFX for corporate applications at the scale of 100s up to maybe 1000 devices at a single site. In particular I am interested in the management side of things. Is there some means to provision the bulbs other than one at a time? Suppose I wanted to associate a specific device with each user as I would a laptop or phone how might that happen?
I think you’d want to use some fairly up-to-date wifi gear to handle thousands of devices. Preferably AC stuff as that can handle more throughput than the older 802b/g/n. Assigning bulbs to users could be done by grouping lights and letting users control their group, but each user would still have access to other bulbs/groups. If you wanted to exclusivise access to individual lamps you’d have to build your own solution I’d imagine.
EDIT: you could potentially put each bulb on its own subnet and do some kind of network wizadry to assign users to subnets but that’s just speculation on my part.
having that many devices on wifi won’t be fun but if you have the infrastructure I guess you could do it. You definitely need a custom solution to manage those lights though.
I am not very sure if my ideas are practical enough but I will share it anyways.
Setting up a bulb before it can be controlled involves the following
- Connecting to the bulbs Wi-Fi AP and providing it info about the Wi-Fi networks its supposed to connect to
- The LIFX bulb stores the Wi-Fi network info (SSID, password, Wi-Fi security etc) in its flash storage
- Associating the bulb with a LIFX user account
All 3 steps can currently be done only by the LIFX app. There is no published API to do that as far as I know.
In theory, its possibly to use a flash memory in which your sites wifi info is already stored and use that flash memory when assembling bulbs meant specifically for your site. This would involve whoever is running this project to work with LIFX folks. I am not affiliated with LIFX so I am not sure if they even support such a model for their customers.
Another possibility which does not involve the bulb assembly line is to do the following for batches of bulbs
- Set up a provisioning lab with maybe 50 or so bulb power sockets
- Plug in and power the bulbs. They will come up as Wi-Fi AP with unique SSID names but with a known prefix
- Run a custom app on a computer which does a SSID scan and picks out the SSID’s with known LIFX prefix
- Get access to the LIFX private API which allows you to set the bulb from LIFX folks and use that API in the custom app to provision bulb cycling through the SSID’s collected in the previous step. You will have to talk to the LIFX folks to see if they will give you access to their private bulb setup API.
In theory, this process only needs human intervention for connecting the bulbs and removing the provisioned bulbs.
Subnetting or VLAN’s would certainly be the easiest way to achieve this on an infrastructure level.
Most corporate Access Points allow mapping different VLAN’s to seperate Wireless networks (SSID’s), so this would be how I would approach it. I would also have multiple AP’s for load balancing; most corporate AP’s support config sharing as well.
This way every user would have their own SSID which is mapped to their own light/s and isolated from the rest of the network. You could then inject WAN into the VLAN for cloud functionality, etc.
This solution isn’t the most scalable however, since too many VLAN’s can saturate a network as a whole. Therefore subnetting might be worth looking into for big deployments.
My LIFX box says “WiFi 802.11 b/g/n”. Do the bulbs support AC but not mention it?
Unfortunately we only support 2.4GHz bands due to limited support in appropriate chipsets. This precludes 802.11ac or any 5GHz support.
ooooooo I take it back then. Ac is backwards compatible with the ‘n’ out of b/g/n, so it should still work, but don’t upgrade to ac just for your LIFX bulbs.
For something like this I’d use a building automation system with some visualization for control. With the right infrastructure such as Ciscos, it could handle 1000s of bulbs in a single site.
With a building automation system you could learn the bulbs, create some visualization to control them then setup users to have access to them. The users would then use the visualization piece created to control them. You could put rules in the firewalls to block the app.