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BitFury to Release Light Bulbs that Mine Bitcoin in 2015

(@pete_rizzo_) | Published on June 2, 2015 at 01:50 BST
News

BitFury, light bulbs

Following the revelation last week that BitFury had developed a prototype light bulb capable of mining bitcoin, the company has announced it plans to take steps to bring the devices to market in 2015.

Though much about the market strategy remains in early stages, the news follows increasing reports that industry companies are attempting to find use cases for bitcoin in line with the broader trend toward connecting everyday devices to the Internet.

BitFury said it intends to invite the community to become a part of its rollout plans, and that it would solicit ideas on how the light bulbs should be marketed to a wider audience as part of a collaborative release.

In statements, CEO Valery Vavilov suggested that the goal of the project would be to galvanize interest in bitcoin as a technology, and that making any money on the initiative would be secondary to promoting discovery.

Vavilov said:

"We believe that the project’s focus should not be on making money from bitcoin mining, but on creating innovative solutions with main purpose to use this product for educational purposes and fun."

The light bulb garnered significant attention on Reddit last week when pictures of the devices first began appearing from attendees at the Blockchain Summit, an informal four-day gathering of industry luminaries on Richard Branson's private Necker Island.

The announcement also follows statements from rival bitcoin mining firm 21 Inc that suggest the industry's best-funded startup is working to integrate bitcoin mining chips into smartphones and connected devices.

Backstory revealed

The company indicated that the devices have been in the works for about a year, having first been conceptualized by board member Bill Tai and head of product Niko Punin.

Vavilov said that a working prototype of the light bulb was completed in early 2015, and that the version observed at the conference is an improvement on earlier attempts.

"We are now on our third generation of prototype and envision this as an educational product that will help lower the friction toward understanding the technology and making it super easy for kids and adults of all ages to touch bitcoin blockchain ecosystem," Vavilov stated.

BitFury said that only a "couple dozen" light bulbs have been so far completed as part of the pilot, and that tech specs are slated for release later this year.

The company envisions a four-step rollout that would find it collecting launch ideas, opening up the project to developers based on received proposals, finding a way to support teams working on the project and choosing the "best prototypes" to market to a wider audience.

Evolving strategy

In line with this spirit of experimentation, BitFury said it is considering all manner of options for the technology's release, from open-sourcing the hardware to creating a software development kit (SDK) that would aim to inspire "social applications" of the technology.

BitFury suggested that the target market for the light bulbs would be hobbyists who have an interest in exploring new technologies.

"Our board member Bill Tai likens this to products he had as a child such as the RadioShack 100-in-one electronic projects kit, or to modern day Raspberry Pi bundles for first-time users," Vavilov continued.

To support its ecosystem, BitFury suggested the light bulbs would come with an attached wallet for transacting with friends.

Notably, such social applications have also been discussed by 21 Inc, which leaked documents suggest had considered releasing its Internet of Things bitcoin devices with a connected social network.

Images via John Dill for BitFury

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