Goldee Light Controller wants to be Nest for smart lighting

Smart lighting like Philips' hue is great if your phone or tablet seldom leaves your hand, but sometimes you want a light switch on the wall where you'd expect it to be. The Goldee Light Controller promises to be just that, but it's no ordinary switch: the minimalistic black square hides touchless-gesture sensors, an AMOLED display, and Nest-style intelligence for automatically managing your lighting schemes.

In most DIY smart lighting installations – whether hue, LIFX, ilumi, or something else – the existing "dumb" light switches are simply left turned on and all control gets handed over to a smartphone or tablet app. That can get confusing for those who aren't wedded to their mobile device: flick the physical switch with a hue setup, for instance, and not only will the bulb default to a regular white (rather than any of the thousands of colors such bulbs generally offer) but, if you leave the switch turned off, the app won't be able to control the lamp.

Goldee's Light Controller goes much further than just replicating on/off and dimming duty in a physical form-factor, however. A Sunrise Alarm feature puts the bulbs through a sun-mimicking routine, while the Sleep Timer function dims down the lights at the opposite end of the day. Night Mode responds to movement in the twilight hours by turning on a low level of lighting: enough, so Goldee says, for you to find your way around but not get dazzled.

The same movement sensors can control lights automatically coming on and off when you move through rooms, much in the same way that Nest controls heating based on activity, and there's an auto-security feature which can kick in typical patterns of use if you're out of the home for more than two days. Rather than tapping the face plate, the Light Controller tracks waves and gestures with its proximity sensor.

Unfortunately, that sort of sleek, flexible control doesn't come cheap. The Goldee switch is priced at $249 while the company crowdfunds its way to a $100,000 goal, but after that will retail for $349 when it launches, currently estimated to happen in Summer 2014. A single switch per room is suggested by the company.

Obviously on top of that you'll need actual bulbs; Goldee has put together some starter packs, with either a Light Controller and three bulbs, or four switches and a dozen bulbs. Companion Android and iOS apps will be offered too.

The accessories market for the smart home movement is still relatively fragmented, though we're seeing more attempts to bring all the disparate pieces together. Revolv's Hub, which we reviewed earlier this month, takes a slightly different approach to Goldee, setting itself up as the center of a mixed home automation system and allowing accessories – such as relatively affordable ZigBee light switches – to control other platforms, like hue and Belkin WeMo.