After living with smart lights—especially smart lights connected to a voice assistant—it’s hard to go back. However, one of the most annoying things about smart lights is when guests who aren’t familiar with your lighting system come over and start messing things up.
That’s because if someone turns your smart lights off using its wall switch instead of an app or voice controls, that also disables the light’s wireless connection, which causes your lights to go from smart to dumb real fast. And the only way to restore normal smart light functionality is to physically flip the switch back to on like some kind of savage.
So, as part of the Friends of Hue program, Lutron teamed up with Philips to create the Aurora, a $40 smart light dimmer that plays nicely with Philips’ Hue ecosystem and the dumb light switches you have on your walls.
Using its built-in battery, the Aurora is able to connect wirelessly to your Hue Bridge, while its mounting base allows owners to easily install it on top of existing toggle switches in just a couple minutes. Once it’s in place, the Aurora can be twisted to dim or brighten your lights, or tapped to turn them off completely without killing the light’s wireless connectivity.
There’s even a small indicator light at the top of the knob to make sure you know that the switch is properly communicating with the rest of your gadgets. Also, because the Aurora is based on the same Zigbee protocol other Hue products use, you’ll still be able to use the dimmer even if your home wifi goes out.
The Aurora isn’t exactly a ground-breaking product. But without it, in order to get a similar effect, smart home enthusiasts often had to install a set of Hue-compatible smart switches alongside existing smart lights, turn to solutions that required homeowners to rewire their switches, or install simple “dumb” cover plates that fit over existing switches.
Unfortunately, right now it seems the Aurora only works with older toggle-style switches instead of the newer rocker-style switches often found in newer homes. Thankfully, if the Aurora doesn’t work for your home, it’s just one of a number of upcoming products from Philips’ Friends of Hue platform designed to give Hue users greater flexibility when it comes to controlling their smart lights.
There’s also a small concern about the battery inside the Aurora dying, but since the included CR2032 battery is replaceable and should deliver an expected battery life of up to three years, it shouldn’t be a huge nuisance.
Regardless, the Aurora certainly seems like a better solution than putting tape over your existing dumb switches to prevent people from inadvertently messing with your smart lights. The real question fans of Hue lights will need to decide is if this kind of convenience is worth $40 a pop.