When Philips first released the Hue connected lighting system, not too many people took notice. Sure, colored lightbulbs you could control with your smartphone were a cool idea, but without much else to offer, they didn’t exactly fly off the shelves. But then Philips rolled out an update, bringing a slew of technological improvements to the bulbs – things like alarms, geofencing, and IFTTT logic. In one fell swoop, Philips transformed Hue from novelty high-tech lightbulbs to an innovative and useful part of the connected home.
So, what exactly can you do with these things? Well, for starters they’re wicked good mood lighting. They can make just about every color on the visible light spectrum, so so in addition to being awesome for impromptu disco parties in your living room, they can also put out soft yellows and crisp whites, which, depending on the setting you choose, can be great for relaxation or concentration.
Another sweet feature Hue has now is the alarm function. These can be set to go off on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, which makes them great for reminders like taking out the trash, paying rent on time, or even just waking you up every morning. You probably already have an alarm clock for that last one, but you’d be surprised how helpful light can be when you wake up in the morning. Even just a tiny bit of light coming through your closed eyelids in the morning is enough to tell your pineal gland to stop making melatonin and tell your brain it’s time to wake up. This is especially useful if you don’t have a window in your bedroom or simply aren’t getting a lot of incoming light.
The 1.1 update also gave Hue this thing called geofencing. Basically, this function gives you the ability to set up virtual ‘fences’ that, if crossed, will switch your lights on or off. The most obvious use of this feature is probably just having your lights shut off when you leave the house or having them turn on when you arrive, but there are tons of other uses if you get creative. Want to set let your wife or girlfriend know your flight landed safely? Just set a fence around the airport you’re headed to and set your lights to change color. No need to worry about sending that “landed safely :)” text – Hue’s got you covered.
But hands down, without a doubt, best feature that came with the update is the addition of IFTTT logic. IFTTT (short if this, then that) is a web service that allows you to automate various tasks by setting up custom triggers. For example, let’s say your friends are assholes and they’re prone to posting horrible pictures of you on Facebook after you get wild at the bar. With IFTTT, you could set up a trigger that alerts you via text message whenever you’re tagged in a Facebook photo. The site supports hundreds of different services, so you can link just about anything to your Hue lights. Let’s say you want to watch the game, but you’re stuck in the office. If you’ve got a lamp in on your desk, you could use Hue along with IFTTT’s ESPN trigger to blink the lights whenever your team scores. That’s just one of a thousand potential uses.
We’ve been playing around with these bulbs for the past few weeks, and now that we’ve grown accustomed to them, it’s hard to think of going back to lights that aren’t WiFi enabled. If you’ve got $200 to spare, we highly recommend you snag yourself a starter kit online, or at the nearest Apple Store in your area.