A modular light bulb designed for graceful obsolescence

In the future, connected light bulbs might not only provide light; they are also perfectly positioned to host microphones, cameras, speakers, or other technologies without adding new wiring or other infrastructure. Turning LED light bulbs with an expected lifespan of up to 20 years into a gadget also potentially converts them into products with relevant lives of five years or less. We prototyped a concept for a connected light bulb that can serve as a platform for connected functionalities while maintaining a graceful obsolescence. We call it Filo.

Filo is not just a light bulb — it’s also a platform that can host a variety of modules with different functions. The light bulb houses the expensive and durable parts like transformers, LEDs, and drivers, while the modules contain the more obsolescent elements for “smart functions” like sensors, actuators, and connectivity. Through its standardized connector, the light bulb not only provides power to the module, but also allows the control of its features by the module and a larger home ecosystem connected to the module. Instead of throwing away and replacing the whole product when it’s incompatible, outmoded, or its specific function is simply not needed anymore, you can just replace the module.

Filo’s modular system makes connected services easy to install and change over time.

Modular systems are niche products, partially because most of them sell a system rather than a product or service. When you are shopping, you don’t look for the parts that make a baby monitor, you look for a baby monitor. So Filo is packaged with a focus on your need, not the parts you need.

While most interactions with Filo are physical, a phone app can help to manage devices and more sophisticated module functionalities.