GE’s smart-bulb tutorial shows how complicated smart technology can be

GE traces its roots back to Thomas Edison, the inventor of the first practical, long-lasting light bulb in 1879. One hundred and forty years later, his company appears to be having trouble transitioning to a “smart” bulb.

A tutorial video from GE showing customers how to reset their C by GE light bulbs portrays an elaborate multi-step process. It involves turning the light off for either two, five or eight seconds and then on for a varied number of seconds over and over and over again. The video shows two different processes for resetting different versions of the bulbs, but both involve more than 10 steps each. It runs three minutes long.

The video was originally posted by GE Lighting in January but recently started getting attention — and ridicule — on social media after finding its way to Reddit.

The process highlights just how complicated having a truly connected home can be. It’s also more negative attention for a company struggling to hold onto its prominence.

GE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While its stock has surged this year, GE has been down dramatically over the past several years. During this time, GE has been forced to consolidate and sell off key parts of its company.

The iconic company was once a sprawling corporation with numerous components, including a major appliance company, NBC, Universal Studios and even one of the biggest US banks. But now it’s struggling to raise cash, ease some of the burden caused by massive debt and deal with a big hole in its pension fund.

Even its famous consumer light bulb business is up for grabs. GE announced plans to sell it in mid-2017 but is still looking for a buyer.

GE’s light bulb video shows that the connected, smart home, which is meant to make tasks like controlling the temperature and locking the front door simple and automated, isn’t an entirely seamless experience yet.

In 2019, over 21 million homes in the US had smart devices to control lighting and things like temperature, according to data from Statista. More than 42 million homes used some form of smart device for tasks such as energy management, security and entertainment.

Fixing C by GE smart light bulbs may not be simple, but the devices can do more than light up a room. They can be programmed to turn on and off on a set schedule, and can be controlled in-home by voice or remotely via an app. They come in a variety of colors as well as a traditional white, and a white that changes based on the time of day.

In addition to being offered by more traditional lighting companies like GE and Philips, smart light bulbs are available from companies including Amazon and Ikea.