+ Friday December 6th, 2019

I am building a house — well, I’m not but someone is for me. In the process of outfitting the place you can be sure I am looking for all the tech-related products I can. LIFX have just the thing for me — well, for my son’s bedroom, the Tile.

So what is LIFX Tile?

It’s art, apparently. Tile is, funnily enough, a tile that lights up on command. Like most of their other products the tile can display 16 million different colours & blended whites across the RGB range at a wide range of brightnesses.

LIFX Tile comes in packs of 3 and 5 and it is possible to display different colours across different tiles — just choose in the app which colour you want each tile to be.

Specs

Does it matter? Not really.

Each tile is 20cm x 20cm and up to 10 tiles can be connected to each other with a single power outlet. The tiles can be controlled using the LIFX app or using anyone of the decent smart assistants, Google Assistant, Alexa or Siri.

As stated above it can display a truck load of colours including some funky themes including a new fire effect. Each Tile has 64 colour zones that can display either a block colour or a multicolour that can be static or animated — this is how it achieves the fire and other animated effects.

Adam and I were able to get all of these functions working perfectly, including the equaliser function where the lights changed based on the music being played — of course played on a Google Home Mini.

The setup, not easy but even a 10 year old can do it

At first look the Tiles look extremely difficult to do but egged on by a 10 year old who eventually was more help than I thought he would be — to be honest I couldn’t have done it without him.

Firstly we laid the tiles out how he wanted them to sit on the wall and then connected each of them, attempting to hide the cables connecting each as much as possible. Then we detach them all and stick them in the correct location — Protip: use a spirit level (or phone app) to get everything straight but because our setup is only temporary until we move next month I didn’t bother.

The good thing is that they are stuck to the wall using Command picture hanging strips so the Tiles can be easily removed and reinstalled at a different location.

But can it perform the way LIFX says it can?

It certainly does. There are a few limitations with how much Google Assistant can control the lights — you have to set up scenes within the app to be able to call up the animations or different colours for different tiles.

We did have an issue at first where Google Assistant was unable to change the colour of the Tiles but after connecting with the LIFX help they looked into it and found there was a small bug in the setup — using the command “Okay Google, Sync my lights” fixed it and we were then able to use Google Assistant to control the lights as expected.

The list of commands for Google Assistant was the same as for the strip lights.

Action Say “Ok Google” or “Hey Google”, then…
Turn light on/off “Turn on
Dim light “Dim
Brighten light “Brighten
Set brightness to a percentage “Set to [50%]”
Dim or brighten by a percentage “Dim/Brighten by [50%]
Change color of light “Turn [color]”
Turn on or off all lights “Turn on/off all the lights”
Turn on scene“Turn on

With the app you can select which Tile you want to change the colour of and alter it one by one — or two at a time or more. Of course you can also select various inbuilt animations and colour schemes as well as save your own for future use.

What’s not to love?

The art. It certainly isn’t classic art such as dogs playing pool and the lights are definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. Of course though they can be functional as well as artistic — Adam often used the lights to help him see his books at night. He just set the lights to be a warm white and then changed the brightness using his Home Mini until he was happy with it.

Unless you have a very modern house though this is not something you would put in your lounge room and use everyday. They are different and don’t have a heap of real world uses aside from some funky colours on your wall — there are a lot cheaper ways to get that plain light for reading a book.

So would I buy them?

While they look funky and can do some amazing things they just don’t match the decor of my new house so would be unlikely to buy them. Then there is also the cost. At a RRP of $399 for the 5 tile pack it is a very tough sell.

Luckily for you — it you own one of those funky warehouse open plan living houses and have a modern decor then they are on sale from now until Father’s Day at the LIFX website for $199, including shipping for the 5 tile pack. At that price, if you have a use for them they are worth the purchase.

Scott Plowman   Editor

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Scott is our modding guru - he has his finger on the pulse of all things ‘moddable’, pointing us towards all the cutting edge mods hacks that are available. When he’s not gymming it up, or scanning the heck out of Nexus devices, you'll find him on the Ausdroid Podcast.

Outside of Ausdroid, Scott's a health care professional and lecturer at a well known Victorian university.

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HI Scott,

It will be a great help if you can please start a sub section or giving regular updates with all your tips/tricks/idea for tech connected home.
so that people like me can get an idea/inspire or just copy your ideas :P, when building a tech friendly home.

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