Resetting Your GE Smart Light Bulb

If you need to reset the software in your GE smart light bulb -- firmware version 2.8 or later -- just follow these easy instructions:

Start with your bulb off for at least 5 seconds.

  1. Turn on for 8 seconds
  2. Turn off for 2 seconds
  3. Turn on for 8 seconds
  4. Turn off for 2 seconds
  5. Turn on for 8 seconds
  6. Turn off for 2 seconds
  7. Turn on for 8 seconds
  8. Turn off for 2 seconds
  9. Turn on for 8 seconds
  10. Turn off for 2 seconds
  11. Turn on
Bulb will flash on and off 3 times if it has been successfully reset.

Welcome to the future!

Posted on July 11, 2019 at 6:24 AM • 70 Comments

Comments

BilateralropeJuly 11, 2019 7:08 AM

Well, those are the instructions for firmware 2.8 or later. 2.7 or earlier has more steps.

Do you know what version of the firmware you're running ?

chrisJuly 11, 2019 7:11 AM

I suppose -- trying to think of a reasonable reason for this bizarre sequence stealing at least a minute from anyone who needs to reset such a bulb -- that the five cycles of eight seconds on and two seconds off will reduce the chances of a spurious reset in normal use.

Petre Peter July 11, 2019 7:17 AM

Ha! So easy to do. Does that mean that the bulb is now a service? Do i have to agree to terms? Do i own the bulb or do i just get the right to use it?The Smart trend is turning stupid. I would write a more detailed post but I have to find out how to reset my fridge, my microwave, my matresss, my washing machine, ad infinitum.

David RudlingJuly 11, 2019 8:25 AM

There is a short cut method.

Start with your GE smart light bulb off.

1. Remove GE smart light bulb.

2. Replace with non-GE non-smart light bulb.

4. Switch on.

5. Discard previous reset instructions (unless required for entertainment value).


JefJuly 11, 2019 8:27 AM

@Bilateralrope: "Do you know what version of the firmware you're running ?"

There must be a switch on/off sequence that makes the bulb output the firmware version by flickering using the Morse code...

Sed Contra July 11, 2019 8:33 AM

With apologies to Rick Anstey

We’re no strangers to IoT
You’ve a smart lightbulb and so do I
How to reset’s what I’m thinking of
You wouldn’t get this from any other guy

I just wanna tell you how to do it
Gotta make you understand

You just turn it on for eight
You just turn it off for two
Just like the version number of the hardware

Etc.

ChrisJuly 11, 2019 8:40 AM

How many of these bulbs have been factory reset by toddlers?

And what is the upside of a "smart" light bulb? What benefit is to be had from connecting something to the Internet which really shouldn't be? Keep in mind that a truly "smart" lighting system would be part of an overall automation system which would be entirely under your control and not involve or require an external 3rd party like Amazon.

parabarbarianJuly 11, 2019 8:57 AM

Clever. Some engineer turned his sex life into a reset sequence.

parabarbarianJuly 11, 2019 9:03 AM

It appears to be an improvement on the previous revision.

Start with your bulb off for at least 5 seconds.

1. Turn on for 8 seconds
2. Turn off for 2 seconds
3. Turn on for 2 seconds
4. Power off for 2 seconds
5. Turn on for 2 seconds
6. Power off for 2 seconds
7. Turn on for 2 seconds
8. Power off for 2 seconds
9. Turn on for 8 seconds
10. Power off for 2 seconds
11. Turn on for 8 seconds
12. Power off for 2 seconds
13. Turn on

oeconomicusJuly 11, 2019 9:27 AM

What would be better?

While the device is paired, send a command over the link - easy.
If the paired device fails - when should it start to try to pair again?
Continuously try to pair with any device in reach? -> probably a bad idea

Reset by physical access:
Adding a button is increased cost.
Opening the bulb and connecting two pins is a safety problem.
Any Ideas? Other than using the existing power-input?

I think it is not a convenient method, but a secure method, and hopefully not needed very often.

CheisJuly 11, 2019 10:16 AM

Are you kidding me‽
I’ll stick to old school, thanks anyway
Perfect example of tech for techs sake

Josh OJuly 11, 2019 10:27 AM

@oeconomicus

There has to be a small watchdog circuit that might be a tiny microcontroller, or some kind of shift register with timers. That has to cost more than a tiny pinhole reset switch.

Nameless CowJuly 11, 2019 10:33 AM

The procedure in the video, presumably genuine, has a "prankish" feel to it. The video reminded me of prank videos people put on YouTube, like one about how you can quick-charge your phone by microwaving it.

TatütataJuly 11, 2019 10:49 AM

OMG! Is that a new kind of lightbulb joke?

Other devices have similarly irksome setup modes, e.g., a certain router model by Linksys. The needles on my Casio solar watch are several minutes out of sync with the set time, and I should have to go through a comparable procedure. (Or I set the digital time four minutes forward, and rely only on the needles).

But what does the software do on these darned lightbulbs anyway? Communicate with the toaster? (The Aardvark and Bernie Sanders sound the same, ain't it?)

My parents could never set the time on the microwave or the VCR. I increasingly know how they feel, even though I'm technically inclined.

Impossibly StupidJuly 11, 2019 11:03 AM

I heard this while listening to a recent Le Show podcast and laughed myself silly starting at the third iteration. It's like these companies go out of their way to hire dumb people to create these "smart" devices.

@oeconomicus

What would be better?

Just about anything. Even a UI/UX novice knows that making someone wait for one unnecessary second is a design failure. What's "better" depends on everything else the device does, and GE isn't paying me, so I'm not going to bother with an in-depth analysis. In general, I'd say a device like this light should operate in different "modes" (e.g., regular, strobe, timer, game, etc.), and from a command/admin mode you could choose to do a reset, and then confirm that choice (kind of like every other computer system you're familiar with). To signal their intentions, users would toggle in specific codes (@Jef joked about using Morse code, but it'd actually be a cool retro/geeky solution). For actual security, you could even set up a challenge-response mechanism to prevent random or automated activation.

Snarki, child of LokiJuly 11, 2019 12:02 PM

"The Smart trend is turning stupid."

Smart is the new Stupid.

PatrickJuly 11, 2019 12:28 PM

"Do you know what version of the firmware you're running ?"

Pretty sure you can just telnet into it and it tells you right there on the login screen.

drdecJuly 11, 2019 12:29 PM

If you need to reset the software in your GE smart light bulb...

Something has gone horribly wrong in your life.

CallMeLateForSupperJuly 11, 2019 1:11 PM

@Snarky
"Smart is the new Stupid."

We think alike. Rcently, after reading about yet another "smart" wet dream, I stifled a scream by putting energy into creating a never-to-be-used passphrase:
"SMART is the new HONEST"

Last century, when I was a kid, jokes about "Honest John the used car salesman" were common. Honest too often meant not honest. Today, "smart" usually indicates not-smart.

I put (non-smart) LED light bulbs in my desk and reading lamps because they run cool, don't bake head or face like incandescents do. BUT ... LEDs are expensive to buy and they flicker when dimmed.

Lynn GrantJuly 11, 2019 2:13 PM

This reminds me of running tests of the Emergency Broadcast System at a radio station in the early ‘70s.

Lynn

C U AnonJuly 11, 2019 2:32 PM

@ parabarbarian,

Clever. Some engineer turned his sex life into a reset sequence.

As the punch line of an old joke goes,

    More than three shakes is pleasure.

C U AnonJuly 11, 2019 2:40 PM

@ Tatütata,

A look down the list indicates "mice" might be offended...

Then they get the punchline wrong...

It should be,

    Two, but don't ask how they got there!

RachelJuly 11, 2019 2:54 PM

I saw the new post and already 34 coments, and thought 'with such a response, there better be some light bulb jokes!' To my delight, at least half were some very amusing responses. Ah, you technical wizards are just too funny

Rick LobrechtJuly 11, 2019 3:19 PM

My wife asked why I carry a gun in the house. I replied "Decepticons". She laughed. I laughed. The GE light bulb laughed. I shot the light bulb. It was a good time.

Apologies to the toaster in the original meme.

DCJuly 11, 2019 3:47 PM

I was thinking you could just say ‘Alexa reset my smart bulb’ but then I realized the answer would be ‘I have put a smart bulb on your shopping list’.

Common ERJuly 11, 2019 3:48 PM

In the interests of enhancing the intellectualism and hopeful+objectivity of these discussion+like text+based interactions, perhaps some of the following linked groups could be useful for us for enhancing our own (and their) {"signal-to-noise ratio"}:

https://www.ucsusa.org/
https://ieee.org

This post is not at all meant to disturb nor detract from the contextual interactions here.

Aside: Some intentional alternative spellings are perhaps useful, when designed to prevent misinterpretation. For example: "pathillogical" is an intentional alternative spelling of "pathological"; however, the spelling with the letter "i" as in "ill" implies the meaning of the word more effectively than the traditional spelling with a letter "o".

Since Latin and other etymological (word history) languages aren't as prevelant, it makes sense to me (and perhaps others) to encourage carefully+crafted alternative spellings to accommodate clearer communications and to further reduce miscommunications.

Similarly, use of the plus sign instead of the minus sign, and avoidance of ambiguous or delimiter punctuation marks might help to REDUCE certain MACHINE LEARNING SPECIFIC misinterpretation issues.

IMPORTANT

Coincidentally, some of the same techniques might be helpful for situations of translation or transliteration or transcoding. Also such techniques and related techniques might be helpful for recovering victims of brain injuries, neurological disturbances, or other linguistic impediments_blockages_bottlenecks.

P.S. - Back on Topic:

There's all this effort to increase energy consumption and to prepare for an onslaught of N^G (5G, 6G, 7G ... NG ... N^G) data paths.

This seems to me to completely be missing the point of reducing both energy demands, reducing depreciation of tools and manufactured goods, reducing bloatware and feature creep, preventing the overzealous use of bandwidth, and even down to ergonomic issues such as

1) What minimum video and/or audio bandwidth does EACH SPECIFIC user ACTUALLY require to utilize a given download or stream per session.

For example, some of the markets push for 4K 8K HD widescreen, but my actual eyes are only a few centimeters apart, just like most other humanoids, and I can only comfortably view a complete image in a common setting if the image is in fact NOT too wide and NOT too tall.

Another example: not everyone can even perceive greater than 16-bit colour spaces and colour gamuts. 32-bit and greater is certainly not always required and this has been proven both biologically in case studies as well as in focus groups and in the marketplace and in creative fields of experties.

16-bit video/imaging still often requires less RAM, less GPU cooling, and if there's no demand for 3D rendering nor texture-mapping, it's a creeping bloatware issue directly correlated to hardware, firmware, CUDA, chip design, etc.

As for audio, it's already been several years since many motherboard manufacturers actually jumped on board with 24-bit 48 kHz (or 96 kHz) full duplex linear PCM audio.

Even though support of the professional and prosumer and consumer markets of audio seems like a continued great idea to me, many varieties of content creators as well as audience members and connoseurs (spelling?) still only require basic analog "prosumer" quality connections and speakers and often DON'T require microphones.

Since accessorization and modular expansion are not at all an issue for digital devices in this era in terms of availability... It's somewhat foolish to keep conformity pushing everyone towards the most expensive purchases of gear that might not at all match their needs. Thankfully, some business and consumer industries and manufacturers and distributers seem to already comprehend this. Others not yet.

This meets the SECURITY space because of the legitimate concerns correlated to "trade wars", "industrial espionage and commercial sabotage", alleged battles over "rare earth metals and minerals", as well as several ecological disasters looming ahead due to overdevelopment of the tech industries to the disadvantage of all traditional biological support systems predating the tech industries as well as the industrial revolution itself by several millions of years! (Ecological Biological PreHistory dates back several billions of years; often listed as the age of the earth, etc, it's beyond this context... yet our survival contiguously depends upon organics not broadband dataflows!!!)

More to come on these topics.

Last but not least,

Cost+effective+diplomacy:

Consider how cheap it is to create and distribute or access a peace sign to be deliberately and exclusively used to facillitate a PEACE PACT or CEASEFIRE.

Despite the drawbacks of whether or not such symbols are made in a historically eco-safe way, usually the signs+emblems+ensignias themselves can be so efficient that the eco and bio disadvantages are minimal and the mutual and multifaceted advantages are both enormous and measureably impressive and relieving. Lives can be saved; lives will be saved. Stress levels can decrease; stress levels will decrease.

Peace signs are a good investment in the present and future even and especially while budgets and finances are suffering. Money itself is often a disadvantagous blockage of a phenomenon. Nevertheless, peaceful gift-giving can prevent future wars and reduce current biological losses.

Warfare is worse than expensive; warfare always risks the entire destruction of this entire planet; that's almost unanimoulsy understood by both science and legacy militaries.

Peaceful communications are NOT trite and NOT follies.

Ensuring continued diplomacy and resilient non electrical, non slavery oriented communications helps to keep this entire planet alive.

That is CERTAINLY A SECURITY and SAFETY topic.

EOT (end of text)

VinnyGJuly 11, 2019 3:50 PM

Snarki, Son of Loki re: "Smart trend" Did you seriously intend to employ the present participle in that statement???

wllsonJuly 11, 2019 6:50 PM

Josh O,

There has to be a small watchdog circuit that might be a tiny microcontroller, or some kind of shift register with timers. That has to cost more than a tiny pinhole reset switch.
No, because most microcontrollers come with a watchdog and a "smart" bulb will already have a CPU or microcontroller. This could simply be software (in ROM or on a part of the flash that's not touched when upgrading), whereas a switch would appear on the BOM.

You guys are all including publically-accessibly lightswitches in your threat model and training your people to watch for this reset sequence, right?

Coyne TibbetsJuly 11, 2019 6:59 PM

One hundred five seconds to do a software reset...and who has the bulb on a switch these days?

Oh, wait, most houses have a main breaker these days. Let's see what could we do with that...

EtienneJuly 11, 2019 8:12 PM

Morse Code CNC:

- 8 seconds
. 2 seconds

-.-. -. -.-.

China Nails Coffin

kaosagntJuly 11, 2019 8:41 PM

@oeconomicus

"There has to be a small watchdog circuit that might be a tiny microcontroller, or some kind of shift register with timers. That has to cost more than a tiny pinhole reset switch."

Seeing these things directly rectify the mains voltage with no isolation and the DC circuit is floating on top of mains (110v / 220v / 240v AC depending on country), sticking a pin into a tiny pin hole wouldn't be recommended...

DavidJuly 11, 2019 9:09 PM

Damnit this is the third it happens today. On the 7th cycle I left it off for 4 seconds instead of 2 and have to restart it all over again!

RealFakeNewsJuly 11, 2019 10:44 PM

A reason for getting these bulbs is the flexibility of changing the brightness and color.

To avoid security issues with the bulb, they can be run on an isolated WiFi network with no internet connectivity.

The GE bulb seems odious to reset.

How many security engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

FiritiaJuly 12, 2019 12:42 AM

How critical are those times? Would it also work with let say: 7.8, 2.1, 8.3, 1.9, etc sec?

oeconomicusJuly 12, 2019 1:48 AM

@Impossibly Stupid

To signal their intentions, users would toggle in specific codes (@Jef joked about using Morse code, but it'd actually be a cool retro/geeky solution)

Which is exactly the current solution: Users toggling in a code using the only input available?

MarkHJuly 12, 2019 2:38 AM

Personally, I think Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Select Start is more intuitive and user-friendly.

Heavymetal BulbheadJuly 12, 2019 3:56 AM

@Tatütata:
"OMG! Is that a new kind of lightbulb joke?"

It probabbly will. Replace "chagne lightbulb" to "reset lightbulb" and multiply number of contenders by 3.

But if you want a good joke, just wait until first lightbulb gets the idea to steal your phone accounts passwords.

Tim#3July 12, 2019 4:21 AM

If you go around your house resetting several one evening, a neighbour may think it is a morse code message

AlanJuly 12, 2019 6:00 AM

Movie Plot Threat:

1. Hack into power grid.
2. Engineer power outages in above sequence to reset everyone's smart light bulbs.
3. Take control of all the smart light bulbs in the city.
4. Use them to send spam.
5. Profit!

JonJuly 12, 2019 6:00 AM

The truly stupid bit is that D. Kyrill's spam post above almost made sense in this context.

As it happens, I design little microcontroller boards for both fun and profit, and when I heard about this I thought, "I just built a board that would do exactly that...".

It's got a little MCU (microcontroller), an RTC (real-time clock, good for precision seconds), and an AC power relay on board. I've been so strongly tempted to reprogram it just a bit, stick a light-bulb socket on it, and sell it to places like Lowe's or Home Depot as a 'Light Bulb Reprogrammer'.

Step 3: Profit. ;-)

J.

AlanJuly 12, 2019 6:04 AM

@Jon --

Isn't technology wonderful? Just think of how much additional commerce technology insecurity creates! We should engineer more insecurities to create more commerce and improve the economy!

[See Milton Friedman's comments about creating jobs by breaking windows, or building highways with shovels instead of power equipment in order to create jobs: "why not give them spoons?"]

ThunderbirdJuly 12, 2019 10:53 AM

Reset by physical access:

Adding a button is increased cost.

Opening the bulb and connecting two pins is a safety problem.

Any Ideas? Other than using the existing power-input?

I think it is not a convenient method, but a secure method, and hopefully not needed very often.

It would be secure if it required physical access to the bulb, but it only requires physical access to the power, which probably comes from outside your perimeter. Do I gain anything much if I can reset all the bulbs in your facility that happen to be receiving power? I have no idea, but I do know that if there's a vulnerability, it doesn't exist at my house.

I guess my answer to your question of "can you come up with a better way to reset a smart bulb" is "mu."

Impossibly StupidJuly 12, 2019 11:03 AM

@oeconomicus

Which is exactly the current solution: Users toggling in a code using the only input available?

But that "code" (even if interpreted as Morse as @Etienne did) is stupidly based on extended delays. From a human factors standpoint, there's just no good reason for that solution. The underlying problem is essentially: how can a user "escape" a normal input channel in a way that is unlikely to be triggered in normal operation or accidentally (such as by a child screwing around). There are countless ways to do that in a manner that doesn't involve multi-second pauses. Even for a device that would be inherently limited by a 0.5 baud rate, you're looking at 60% signal loss/inefficiency here. Even with simple counter-based sequences you could probably get people to do this not only 8 times faster, but give them the experience that they did something more than spend most of their time waiting around watching the seconds tick by.

simpletonJuly 12, 2019 12:57 PM

Decades worth of light bulb jokes are going to need rewritten.

We may as well start with:

Q: How many Polacks does it take to change a light bulb?

A: None. The Customer Service Center is in New Delhi, and cannot hire Polacks, who live in Poland. Furthermore, your obtuse use of an obsolete ethnic slur has been reported to the Committee on Antisocial Behavior Local #416.

TheoJuly 12, 2019 1:19 PM

These type of resets are often put into the system for engineering use during early product development and testing (or even manufacturing, although something that takes over a minute would give production fits).

This reset may not be designed for end customer use, but leak out when the official reset method, that was carefully designed according to best UI practice, turns out to be totally useless.

A Nonny BunnyJuly 12, 2019 2:09 PM

@Josh

There has to be a small watchdog circuit that might be a tiny microcontroller, or some kind of shift register with timers. That has to cost more than a tiny pinhole reset switch.
You're suggesting sticking a pin in a live electrical device? I can think of a reason why people might prefer not to.

Frank WilhoitJuly 12, 2019 2:41 PM

Q. How many surrealists does it take to reset a light bulb?
A. Two: one to hold the giraffe, the other to fill the bathtub with brightly-colored machine tools.

Q. How many postmodernists does it take to reset a light bulb?
A. Egg.

MarkHJuly 12, 2019 3:22 PM


Q. How many postmodernists does it take to reset a light bulb?

The very framing of this question seems to problematically presuppose the objective existence of the category "light bulb."

What then is a light bulb? A mere chimera -- a socially constructed fiction -- inherently devoid of significance beyond what may be imputed to it by inadequately interrogated cultural prejudice.

No one has ever beheld, or touched, a "light bulb" ... we know only our culturally programmed interpretations of certain impressions, whether internally or externally originated, which we have been programmed by social dogma to brute-force into the pigeonhole of "light bulb," a purely arbitrary classification invented ex nihilo by privileged white males.

What the masses are bullied into thinking of as a light bulb, is merely a Eurocentric epiphenomenon of the most crassly exploitative imperialism.

The liberation of human potential -- of which the power structure is rightly terrified -- can only be attained when thinking is purified of such corrupt and constraining categories.

Jonathan CaumJuly 12, 2019 4:18 PM

Does flashing firmware involve something like this?

1. Download firmware

2. Open Powershell. Convert firmware to bytes using file.io stream.

3. Convert the bytes to bits.

4. Connect a USB-connecting laser pointer to your computer.

5. Attach a light sensor between your bulb and the socket it plugs into.

6. Using gator clips, affix the laser point to direct at the light sensor diode that is installed between bulb and socket.

7. In PS:

Do {

[filesystem.io]::Readallbytes($firmwarefile)

$firmwarefile.convertto(binaries)

Foreach (binary in binaries) {

if (bit -eq 0) {turn laser pointer off for 1 ms}
if (bit -eq 1) {turn laser pointer on for 1 ms}

}

While ($FW -eq old)

Jumbo JonesJuly 13, 2019 1:53 AM

The 8 / 2 second periods are sufficiently different to allow for considerable operator error during the reset process.

Five cycles may seem overkill. I’ve had other smart bulbs reset when the mains power has failed after valiantly trying to auto switch power lines during adverse weather (eg on/off multiple times in quick succession).

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