Q Smart Lighting Platform

The color of music

The Q is a smart LED lighting and streaming audio system whose flashiest feature is the ability to create synchronized lightshows to accompany music playlists. Call it a disco ball for the 21st century -- and coincidentally, the first known use of a mirrored ball at a dancehall was in Boston in 1897, while Q is a product of Belleds, a startup founded by MIT and Harvard grads just across the Charles River in Cambridge.

Turning your house into a thumping, strobing dance club isn’t the only thing Q is good for, though. The programmable combination of light and sound can be used to add subtle ambiance to a room; to signal incoming messages or notifications; and to create audiovisual alarms and reminders. The app also provides manual control, of course, and Belleds is working on an additional “gesture control unit” that would allow the lights to be controlled directly without a smartphone, essentially replacing (and improving) the wall-mounted lightswitch.

Belleds’ bulbs can produce millions of colors at up to 650 lumens while drawing only 7.5 watts of energy. A base station mediates between the user’s mobile devices, sound system, and the lightbulbs through a combination of WiFi or an Ethernet connection and a proprietary 2.4 Ghz radio Belleds developed for the bulbs, which the company says reduces costs while improving energy efficiency. Bulbs can be grouped or controlled independently, with up to 100 bulbs connecting to a single base station.

Q is an open-source project built on OpenWRT, which will make it easy for developers to expand its capabilities and integrate it with other technologies. Support for many core IoT plaftorms is already built in or forthcoming, including AllJoyn, HomeKit, Zapier, IFTTT, and several streaming music services.

The Q’s Kickstarter campaign runs through July 16, and Belleds plans to ship devices in late 2014 or early 2015. Check out the video below to learn more.

Related: WiFi Lights