How are Luminodes different from other light switches?

There are many different types of light switches in the world. The simplest switches work mechanically, connecting and disconnecting power to lights, thus allowing you to easily switch lights all the way on or all the way off. But they can’t do much else. We all know those.

Then there are dimmer switches, which either work mechanically or electronically. Dimmer switches allow you to dim lights so they don’t have to be fully bright when on, which enables more comfortable lighting. That’s a good thing.

But neither of these types of switches are smart switches. Early smart switches first came around in the 70s, which, while they didn’t change the switch behavior, allowed users to control them from far away (initially, by remote controls, and later, from your smartphone.) From our team’s perspective, these were like smart switches by name, but not in essence. Why not smart? Well, they weren’t learning. So how smart could we really say they were?

Now, in late 2020, with the release of the Luminode, and its embodiment of newly patented machine teaching technology, we have a truly new, genuinely smart dimmer switch. This technology, invented and refined by Think Automatic founder Steve Harris, allows people to teach their homes how to behave based on interactions with their Luminodes and other connected devices and sensors.

So to answer the question, Luminodes are dimmer switches that work electronically, and like all the previous smart switches on the market, allow users to adjust them not just by touching the switch but also from other devices like smartphones. What makes them different is their ability to learn and be trained.

Because they’re smart switches, you don’t need as many light switches as you do typically, which means fewer switches on your walls and much less wiring behind your walls, all of which saves you money.

But like many things, to know the difference, you need to feel it. Most people who live with Luminodes feel the difference within a week. But it’s important try them yourself to really know how they work in your space and why they’re different. We think you’ll love them.

How do Luminodes learn and where do they store the learned behaviors?

The Luminodes rely on a genetic algorithm guided by reinforcement learning as described in the patent. To understand it in an intuitive way, we like to think about it in the same way you might think about your dog. Whether you mean to or not, when you own a dog you are always training it. If you consistently reinforce specific behaviors those behaviors get remembered. In a similar way, Luminodes seek to behave in a way that is most likely to be as approved of as possible.

A more precise way to explain it for the Luminodes is that each behavior they exhibit is remembered as a unique “scene” that is stored in a way that can be thought of as a “gene” in the system. The scenes that get selected most often and for the longest time get favored. Other factors are also considered such as time of day, day of week and geolocation. The ones that get passed over the most or otherwise not selected eventually drop out of the system.

Since the Luminodes themselves have limited computing resources, they rely on the powerful computational resources available on cloud based servers. Once the behavior models are calculated in the cloud, they are stored in small simple formats that are pushed to and stored in the Luminodes themselves. For a user, this means that even if your connection to the Internet goes down, your Luminodes will keep working. They wouldn’t continue learning new behaviours until your Internet comes back, but chances are you wouldn’t even notice anything different about your Luminodes as long as your Internet wasn’t down for days on end.

What is Smart Nudgeᵀᴹ technology?

Smart Nudgeᵀᴹ is the patented machine learning technology that allows Luminodes to quickly and easily figure out your preferences. Its process is so simple a kindergartener could do it, and maybe even understand it: nudge (or tap) until you get what you want. What are you tapping? The surface of the light switch.

As a team, we envision applying this technology to other surfaces in time. The light switch surface is just a convenient and accessible start. There are other things we could go into (for instance, tapping is only one among an endless number of triggers that the patent covers). For those who are curious, the full text of the patent can be found here.

What happens if Think Automatic goes out of business? Will my Luminodes keep working?

Yes. Your Luminodes will keep working well even if Think Automatic goes out of business and our web servers go away. Some features could become unavailable such as controlling them via smartphone or smart speaker. But the Luminodes themselves will remember indefinitely the last behavior models that they received and will continue to function cohesively even without the Internet.

In addition, because Luminodes are capable of updating their own firmware over the Internet we would be sure to provide an update to make any such transition as smooth as possible. All that aside, we are trying hard to stay in business, advance our technology, and thrive as a force in the smarthome universe.