If 2016 is the year of connected gadgets doing all the things smartphones can't, Sony is taking the idea to the extreme. The company's newest appliance, the Multifunctional Light, performs an absurd amount of functions you'd never expect — and maybe don't even want — out of an overhead fixture. (But don't expect whoever named it to win any creativity awards.)
It can communicate with other appliances like air conditioning units and thermostats with data from its humidity sensors, talk to your TV using infrared to turn it on when its motion sensors detect you're in the room, and act as a household intercom system equipped with speakers and a microphone. It even has a microSD card slot for some completely inexplicable reason. All of these functions can be controlled via a smartphone app when you're inside or away from your home.
Sony's light is taking a page out of Amazon's smart home playbook
Basically, the company packed the technology inside Amazon's Echo speaker into a lightbulb that fits into a flying saucer-shaped housing unit. If that sounds silly, just take a look at how the Echo and Amazon's Alexa digital assistant are increasingly taking over smart homes here in the US by performing the basic needs of a voice-powered central hub. The downside is Sony's light is only coming to Japan in the first half of 2016, so we don't have details on pricing or availability outside the country.