I spent almost two hours talking about lightbulbs yesterday and didn’t yawn once. “Impossible” you cry, but oddly enough it’s true. Philips invited me into a tucked away Central London to meet “hue”, the latest and greatest in lightbulb technology.
Philips first started making lightbulbs 121 years ago and haven’t really stopped since then, so they know what they are talking about. When people ask what the most mind blowing gadget I’ve seen whilst working for Latest Gadgets my go to is normally “Samsung’s wifi enabled touchscreen fridge” but hue – an app controlled wifi-enabled lightbulb – is a strong contender for the top spot.
Hue utilises LED technology so it’s already more environmentally friendly and economical over the long term than conventional lightbulbs. But the real magic comes from how it leverages the power of LED technology and bends it to suit your ever changing whims.
In the box are three special hue bulbs and a bridge that plugs into your router. As the name suggests, hue enables you to change the colour of light in a room and the box playfully demonstrates this with a cute colour wheel on the side. If you flip this around the colour wheel walks you through the simple installation process. Plug in the bridge, screw in the lightbulbs (screw bulbs only although you can get screw to bayonet convertors for 99p delivered on eBay), download the app and you should be good to go.
The app is one both iOS and Android, although the Android version is missing one or two functions at launch. The app is a great example of “better living through smartphones” as it makes your lighting fully customisable from a device that is always in your pocket.
So what can hue do? Isn’t it just an overly complicated dimmer switch? No not even close. As I said before, Philips have been in the lightbulb game for a long time and have a scary level of passion for the subject. Once you have hue up and running you can access over 16 million colours simply by sliding your finger across. You can also control each bulb individually and the system has been tested with up to 50 bulbs. So you can name the bulbs “Bedroom”, “Study” etc and have different settings in each one. If you have a room with multiple bulbs you can mix and match colours.
One very cool function is the ability to replicate the colour scheme from an image. So if you see a dusk or a dawn that you love the look of you can snap a photo with your smart phone and then drag your bulbs to various points on the image to try and replicate the colour mix. If you like the scene you’ve created you can save it. You can also set a timer so it comes on at a specific time. You can even use a daylight setting to create a light based alarm clock, with your bedroom gradually filling with light.
More practically it comes with a number of pre-loaded scenes that they’ve researched for certain scenarios. Want to read? They have the perfect light setting. Want to focus on a task. You’re covered. Fancy chilling out? That’s in there too. And you can tweak all these settings and create your own templates.
Hue is based on open standards and is more of a platform than a gadget and Philips are hoping developers use the technology in wild and wonderful ways. The Zigbee wireless mesh network technology working behind the scenes is industry standard and will play nicely with all your existing home automation kit. All the bulbs act as signal extenders so they should work throughout your house.
Philips have partnered with Apple for launch and hue with be available in Apple stores from today. The starter back is £179, with each additional bulb costing £45.
For more information head to www.meethue.com