Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
The idea of making ordinary household objects extraordinary with the addition of Wi-Fi isn´t a new one. The Nest thermostat, for example, works with a home´s Wi-Fi set up to enable wireless and remote control operations. Instead of getting up to turn the air off, you only have to reach as far as your iPhone.
The light bulb has also seen its day in the glow of Wi-Fi greatness. The LIFX bulb, one example of many, will enable users to control energy efficient LED bulbs remotely and even change the bulb´s color, all via a smartphone app.
Today, Philips is announcing their entrance into the Wi-Fi-enabled light bulb market and, just like the Nest thermostat before it, shoppers will be able to pick it up at any Apple store across the nation. Actually, the new Philips system will be available at Apple stores only in the beginning, starting October 30th.
While placing such energy efficient LEDs in the Wi-Fi halo is already a fine idea, these bulbs are often only as good as the apps that run them. This is where Hue looks to excel. Each bulb can be controlled separately, meaning each bulb can change into different colors. What makes Hue stand out is the way in which these colors can be changed. Rather than pick a color from a spectrum wheel, the Hue app lets you choose colors from pictures. It´s a feature which Phillips is touting as a way to recreate the special moments in your life. For instance, if you´ve taken a picture of a candle lighting ceremony, you´ll be able to pick which oranges and yellows you´d like your bulbs to take on.
The app even allows users to place their bulbs on timers, dimming and lighting up at specific times. This feature is not only handy for those with kids, but it could also make waking up a little more pleasant. Imagine waking up to a soft and warm light as opposed to a loud ringing alarm and the harsh rays of a fluorescent bulb. These timers can also add another important piece to the home-automation puzzle, with lights turning on and off in perfect cycle. All you have to do is simply live in the house and move from room to room.
The app also lets you turn on the lights when you´re away from home, an added security feature for those who don´t want their houses to look particularly empty.
Finally, Philips has created 4 pre-programmed light settings which they call “LightRecipes.”
These settings are the result of research conducted by Philips to help facilitate different moods. For instance, users who have just come home from work can select “relax” for a soothing glow. Those who need to spend some time studying can choose “concentrate” to change their room into a well-lit area conducive for work.
Philips is even opening up Hue to the developer community and have created an open source platform to be used and integrated into other apps.
“Philips hue is a game-changer in lighting — a completely new way to experience and interact with light. In the way phones, media and entertainment have been revolutionized by digital technology, now we can also personalize light and enjoy limitless applications,” said Jeroen de Waal, Head of Marketing & Strategy at Philips Lighting, in a press release.
The starter kit is priced at $199 and comes with 3 bulbs and a Smart Bridge, a device which plugs into your Wi-Fi router and connects your smartphone with your bulbs. After that, the bulbs cost $59 a piece, a bit of a premium considering how much average LED bulbs cost.