Hue is a new product from Philips that works with Apple’s iOS to allow you to control your home lighting from anywhere in the world.
Retailing in Apple stores from this week, the Hue lightbulb is designed to bring wireless lighting into the homes of iOS fans. Philips have described their new product as ‘the world’s smartest bulb’ – a grand label, but one that might be deserved.
With the Hue lightbulb, Apple users can control both the color and brightness of the bulbs, which use 20% less energy than traditional home bulbs. While we’re all familiar with home automation technology that lets us control technical functions wirelessly around the house, Apple users can control a Hue lightbulb from anywhere in the world.
Not sure if you really did turn that living room light off before leaving on vacation? No problem. Want to deter burglars by giving the impression that someone is home? Easy. All you need is access to Philips’ Hue web-enabled app, and you can switch on, switch off and change all the settings your heart desires.
LightRecipes and Scene Screens
As well as giving you control over the color and brightness, Philips have helpfully included what they call “LightRecipes”. These are pre-programmed light themes that are designed to complement the human body’s physiological responses to external lighting. According to Philips, they are:
“…expert LightRecipes, four pre-programmed lighting settings based on Philips’ research around the biological effects that lighting has on the body, feature scenarios that adjust bulbs to the optimum shade and brightness of white light to help you relax, read, concentrate or energize.”
The app also contains scene screens, including a beach. When activated, the lights take on the colors and shades from these scenes in an attempt to recreate the atmosphere in your house.
The Hue-curious need to begin by purchasing a starter pack. At $199 for the set-up gear and three bulbs, these don’t retail cheap. Each additional bulb beyond the starter pack costs $59, which doesn’t exactly rival grocery store prices, however the bulbs supposedly last for around 15,000 burning hours – or 15 years – and will help keep your household energy bills down.
As well as the three bulbs, each starter pack contains a wireless bridge, which plugs directly into your wireless router. Press a button on the bridge, and it will identify the three bulbs, which you can now control using the Hue iPhone or iPad app.
When you’ve explored all the settings and features, and found scenes and LightRecipes you enjoy, you can program the app to work like a timer, so the lights will automatically change to a certain setting at a pre-programmed time.
With the release of Hue, Philips now hope that other developers will make their own apps to work with the product, which uses an open standard called ZigBee Light Link. This paves the way for collaboration with other products that use the same standard in the future.
Home automation is a relatively untapped field, having previously been the domain of the super-wealthy (or super-geeky). Recent products like Nest’s smart thermostat, also selling in Apple stores, and now Philips’ Hue lightbulb could change that, however, and introduce home automation into the lives of the average consumer.
With competition closing in on all sides in the tablet and smartphone areas, Apple’s move towards partnering with home automation companies could help the company strike out in a new direction. Watch this space though, as Google have suggested they are planning to explore the home automation market too…