Philips Hue – Smart lighting for your humble abode
LED technology has been pushing the boundaries of home lighting for quite some time; innovations on this front have taken many forms and aren’t just designed for reducing your electricity bills, but also provide a sense of decorative and aesthetic appeal to your abode. Philips’ Hue lighting system is just that unique product that caters to those who like setting the mood at home according to their whims and fancies and even manages to throw in a few “health” and security measures as well, at least according to the company’s brief. We tested the 3-piece (3 9W bulbs) Philips Hue starter kit and here’s what we think:-
How many Philips users does it take to screw in a light bulb? Just one, it’s ridiculously simple and the rather detailed and well-designed box shows you how in an innovative style. For households that don’t use the Edison screw-type bulb holders, you’ll need to get Bayonet Cap adapters which aren’t hard to find. Once they’re connected to the socket, you’re next step is to set up the Bridge, a Wi-Fi enabled controller. It needs to be near a wall socket that’s also close to your router seeing as the cable provided, although great in quality is a not extremely long. Step three – install an app to control the lights. Although Philips has their own customized Hue app on the Apple and Android app stores, there are dozens of alternatives from which you can choose, ranging from free to minimally priced options. Some are designed to be simplistic while others offer a more… entertaining approach to using the LEDs. For the sake of a review, we used the Philips Hue official app for Android.
Once you’ve got your App installed on your smartphone and your handset hooked up to your Wi-Fi, you’re good to go, just flip the light switch and have at it.
Once you’re set up with the lights and the Bridge just follow the instructions on the app and you’ll able to control the lights in whatever fashion you wish. Philips has provided quite a few pre-sets that give off a variety of glows and lighting options that range from warm beach-front settings to sunset hues, countrysides etc. The app also gives users the added ability to capture an image using the camera and change the lights’ colors using the items or textures in the photograph. That’s quite handy, especially when you see a color you really like; a choice of 16 million colors is at your disposal.
The system also lets you individually choose which light you want to assign to what color giving your room as unique an ambiance as you possibly can. The settings also let you adjust the brightness level for each option and each light individually.
The Philips Hue LEDs can also be tuned to work as alarms for various apps – the lights in your room, for example, could be set to come on as a morning alarm and glow with a warm “sunshine” tone, some apps even let you sync the alarm of the Hue to your favorite TV shows; the lights would go on for flash when it was time for the show to begin. One could also set the lights to go on or off at specific times and even remotely control the functions using a browser option when not at home. The LEDs can also be connected to various data feeds using the IFTTT service and app that’s available on the stores. This will enable you to use the lights as indicators of notifications like new emails received, changes in the weather, reminders and so much more.
The system also lets you get creative and customize the settings for the lights. Geofencing technology gives the Hue the added functionality of adjusting to your presence, for example, the lights could automatically switch on the moment you return home and your handset connects to the app or Wi-Fi.
Philips has designated the various customizations and presets as Light Recipes, an unusual name for a setup but it does have its merits.
The Bottom Line
The Philips Hue LEDs have been well provisioned for and do have some interesting features that quite certainly classify them as “Smart” Lights, and do have some extremely handy features and functions the heavy price tag of Rs. 16,000 for the starter kit of three can be a bitter pill to swallow for some. Nonetheless, the technology for LEDs has come a long way and the Hue is a fascinating example of just how advanced simple household commodities have become. There are plenty of uses for lights like these in homes and in commercial establishments, but at the end of the day, it is a luxury not everyone will able to afford, but if you got it, we say flaunt it!