I can remember the first time my family bought a television with a remote control. I was flabbergasted that we could turn the TV on and off, change channels, and control the volume, all without having to leave the couch. That simple device spawned millions of couch potatoes, and their nightly ritual search through the cushions for the coveted remote. But, it also paved the way for people to want more control over every aspect of their homes. Enter the age of the Internet, and suddenly there are all sorts of products on the market that allow us to remotely monitor, analyze and manipulate everything from the temperature and lighting, to security and entertainment. All this tech together is creating the concept of “Smart Homes.” To get you better acquainted with all the technology available to make your living environments smarter and more convenient, I’m going to be covering some of the products and their functionality in a new series. This first installment in the Smart Home System Series covers the Philips Hue and Lighting Control.
A Light is a Light…Right?
Before I was introduced to the Philips Hue Lighting System, I was pretty convinced that lights were pretty simple and basic concepts that had pretty much not changed since Edison first patented the idea. It’s a bit of wire in a glass bulb that glows when you pass a current through it. That’s it, that’s all, do not pass go, do not collect $200. However, thanks to your wireless connection to the internet, the Philips Hue system lets you have a lot more control and flexibility over your home ambiance, security, and more.
All About Control
At its most basic, the Philips Hue system consists of internet connected light bulbs, that you control with an app on your smart phone or other device. The starter kit comes with a little round WiFi bridge, a dimmer switch and a couple of white light bulbs. It seems pretty simple, however it does add quite a bit of versatility to your home lighting. For example, say you’ve left the lights on downstairs and you’re already comfy and cozy in your bed next to the missus? Well, you can simply roll over and tap those lights off from your smart phone on the bed stand. No more tripping over the cat on a dark stairwell on the way back up to your bed and now snoring wife. The basic system and app also allows you to set up your lights so they go on in different parts of your house at various times, making it appear that you are home when you’re not really there. And, unlike simple light timers, the Philips system lets you change the time your lights go on from virtually anywhere there is an internet connection. And there are more ways to add functionality to the system with new bulbs, lights, various apps and peripherals.
A Different Type of Light
How does the Philips system give your lighting added functionality? You can set up the bulbs in your bedside lighting, or purchase a Philips table light, and then turn it into an alarm. You can set it to slowly illuminate your room, waking you gently with light, rather than a loud blaring alarm or some Lady gaga song from the clock radio. You can also customize the intensity of the lighting so you can have the perfect ambiance for reading and concentrating, relaxing, or getting romantic. You can also turn your Philips lighting into an entertainment experience, by synching it with your TV shows, games, movies or music using an app, and having it pulse to every beat, explosion and sound. There are also colour-changing bulbs, so you can add splashed of colour throughout your living spaces.
Philips meets Apple HomeKit
The Philips Hue system also supports the Apple HomeKit technology, meaning all your Philips lighting can be controlled using voice commands with Siri, or you can link the entire Philips system to other HomeKit-enabled accessories.
More to Discover
Philips recently added a flexible lightstrip to its line of products, and it too can be monitored and manipulated through a smartphone app. It’s a cool light source that you can bend and shape in any way you want, too, and doubtless Philipps is working on new and more versatile lights to add to the system. As with all emerging smart home tech, it may take a while for the general masses to adopt new systems like the Philips Hue lights, however, like the old TV remote control, this type of technology is only going to increase our desire for more convenience and control over our home lives. Of course, now we all spend our time looking for our smart phones in the couch cushions. Some things never change.
Let me know in the comments section below what you think of smart home technology, and this first installment of the series with the Philips Hue lighting control system. Is it a tech you think you want in your home?