Home Automation

Stack Lighting Pivots, Stops Selling Bulbs to Consumers


Stack Labs, the company behind the heralded Stack Lighting smart bulbs, is no longer selling consumer lighting. The company, founded by former NASA and Tesla engineers in 2013, launched with audacious plans and great fanfare, including a feature article in Wired. We covered that announcement on Home: On just three years ago.

Stack’s great innovation was a departure from smart lighting at the time: they put the sensors and smarts in the bulbs themselves, and they launched initially with BR30 floods to serve office and home markets. An array of onboard sensors—including occupancy, motion, lighting, and even temperature—work with learning algorithms to tune the color and intensity of the light for your space, your activity, and the time of day. They can also act as remote sensors for Nest’s thermostat and notify you of unanticipated motion when you’re out.

We’ve been testing review units of the bulbs, and as recently as last December, Stack was promoting its second product innovation, a standard (A19) bulb that could sense occupancy through a lamp shade using RF technology, while CNET was writing about the product line’s great benefits.

71gREefT4+L._SL1500_We saw Stack at an event around CES 2017, and then silence. We tried reaching out to our contacts at Stack prior to posting a product review, noticing that all products were sold out in their online store and on Amazon, and you could no longer find the bulbs at retail. Stack’s site started getting stale, and they weren’t introducing further updates or capabilities after launching their Alexa skill. So ultimately, our review didn’t post…which is a shame, because the product is great, and we were eager to test the next-generation A19.

Meanwhile, Stack’s blog was promoting news about their inroads in a new vertical—managed aging care. Stack was using its groundbreaking sensor technology to help care facilities better monitor and manage aging resident/patient activity. They even won an award for it.

That leads us to the unfortunate but unsurprising place where we are now. This notice sits in place of Stack’s legacy home page:

Stack Labs Inc has sold its lighting technology and will continue to operate its software and spatial awareness division as Stack.Care, which focuses on providing monitoring and lighting solutions for the senior community market.

Stack will no longer be selling its light bulbs and will announce more information soon.

For additional information on the Stack Care solution, please go to Stack.Care.

SEC filings show a recent infusion of capital, relatively many years after their initial seed funding. And updates on Stack Care’s web site suggest a management change, with former CEO and founder Neil Joseph now listed as a “Board Member,” presumably to better support the new focus.

We’re always happy to see a company find a new focus when their initial plans don’t play out as anticipated, and the aging care space is certainly one that can benefit from IoT technology. But it’s still disappointing to see the end of unique and innovative consumer products—particularly when they offer so much promise.

What’s unclear at this time is what’s to become of the products that are already in consumers’ homes and offices. These depend a hub, an app, and presumably cloud services that likely won’t live on forever. We’ll be keeping an eye out for the above-mentioned announcement.

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About the author

Richard Gunther

Richard is a product experience consultant with a life-long interest in consumer electronics. He has been immersed in smart home tech for decades now and hosts The DMZ's home automation podcast, Home: On and co-hosts Entertainment 2.0 with Josh Pollard. Richard looks at products through an experience lens, always seeking the right mix of utility and delight.