The Zuli Smartplug: Creating a Smart Home

Taylor Umphreys, a UC Santa Barbara alumnus and former undergraduate researcher in Institute Director John Bowers’ lab, recently launched Zuli, a smartplug that enables you to control lights and appliances from your phone.


Zuli Smartplugs may be the next generation of home energy efficiency. In addition to allowing you to control lights and appliances manually from your smartphone, it can detect when you walk into a room and automatically adjust your devices based on customized settings. For example, when you walk into your home office your desk light, computer and radio can turn on from your set preferences.

The product itself is a small, smart device that plugs directly into an electrical outlet. Using Bluetooth LE, the plug acts as a sort of upgraded outlet by allowing you to control appliances via your smartphone. From there, you can optimize your preferences for dimming your lights to a certain level or setting your devices to turn on and off at specific times.

Zuli also provides valuable energy usage data such as energy consumption, which Zulishows associated costs based on each month’s energy usage. This allows you to track energy usage for the entire house or see which Zuli-powered devices are using the most energy. Other information, like the device’s active time and carbon footprint, is also available to consumers.

Background story and founder
The idea behind this technology was born at the University of California, Santa Barbara, when undergraduate engineering students Taylor Umphreys, now CEO, Sid Bhargava, CTO, and Ben Chang, VP of Operations, were looking for an easy and affordable way to control the appliances in their college apartment. Unable to find what they were looking for, they came together and developed the first Zuli prototype. After receiving widespread support from classmates and professors and winning the People’s Choice award at the 2012 UCSB New Venture Competition, their idea took off.

Zuli is set to deliver its first set of smartplugs to customers this summer. For more information or to pre-order Zuli, go to

For a 10% discount on your pre-order, enter the discount code “Gauchos.” 

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