I have always thought smart home gadgets are a bit gimmicky, until I broke down and installed a few. I am now a convert as they are not only practical but so convenient they can actually improve your quality of life. For instance, I have a keyless lock in my home so I never worry about carrying around keys that I can lose. If I have friends or family that arrive when I am not there, I can let them in remotely until I show up. It’s great!

HUE is Philips line of smart home products that is all about lighting that can be controlled using your Smartphone or tablet. It brings the Internet of Things to reality and there are so many excellent ways to use HUE lighting products. Let’s explore just a few to give you an idea how they can improve life at home.

HUE – How it Works

Before exploring HUE lighting possibilities, let me describe how it works. The HUE Starter Kit has the two of the three components required. It comes with three HUE light bulbs and a wireless bridge. The third required component is a free app that you simply download on your mobile device. All you do is screw in the bulb and turn it on. It will light up without the wireless bridge. Then plug the bridge into your router using an Ethernet cable, download the free app and follow the prompts to pair the bulbs and bridge to your phone or tablet. You can now fully control the bulbs using your mobile device.

The HUE bulbs are LED, which means they have a very long lifespan and use a fraction of the energy required by normal bulbs. Philips rate the bulbs at 15,000 hours and only require 20% of the power. The wireless bridge in the starter kit comes with 3 bulbs but can be used to control up to 50 bulbs.

Controls and Customization

The HUE app is very well thought out, as it gives you immense control of your lighting from your mobile device. You can control and customize the colour and intensity of each individual bulb, as well as turn lights on and off from your phone. There are also a number of pre-loaded lighting scenes, which can create a wide variety of different moods. Settings like relax, sunrise, energize, etc. It also has timers for the bulbs so you can set them to automatically come on and off at different times. The very latest version of the app takes these even a step further with geofencing and IFTTT (if this, then that) which can change colours or turn off or on when an event happens (like your hockey team scores, or it is raining outside). Have look at the video above!

You can control bulbs individually or group them as you would in different rooms. In addition to HUE LED bulbs, they have brought out the HUE Bloom Luminaire lights (below) as well as HUE Light Strips. The Luminaire lights can sit on the floor or shelf and face upwards to create attractive lighting. The light strips can be used in all sorts of applications where you might want a long simple strip of light.

Improve Your Life

There are so many ways to use these lights that the list is virtually endless. I am sure people will discover excellent new applications all the time. Here are just a few examples.

In my carport HUE lights would be ideal. If I leave at night I can turn them on before I get outside and as I get in the car and leave, I can turn them off so they don’t waste energy. When I come home I can turn them on as I pull in, so I am not fumbling around in the dark. My carport lights work this way and it is brilliant, no pun intended.

The timer capability is a great security feature for when you are out for the evening or on vacation. You can set up different lights to come on and off at different times so it looks like someone is at home. If you happen to forget to set the timer you can simply go on to you phone app and remotely turn lights on and off or set up the timer.

The light timer can also act as a softer alarm clock. You can gradually turn lights on in your bedroom before your noisy alarm goes off. Using the timer and the dimming feature you can make this a very soft wakeup. 

If you are about to watch a movie, you can not only control your TV and streaming device using your Smartphone or tablet, you can also dim the lights to get the best lighting conditions – never having to get up.

Not only can you create mood lighting, in a full spectrum of colours, anywhere in your home you can have fun with the holidays. The HUE Bloom Luminaire lights can shine on your Christmas displays in a nice red or green Christmas colour. Or Halloween display in orange. You get the idea. 

The HUE lighting is so flexible with colour, brightness, and control that it definitely has a “wow” factor that you will have some fun with. Beyond the wow factor, there is a lot of convenience and usefulness with these products. If you have any other ideas I’d love to hear them.

Tom Brauser
I love to try new technologies and I have a practical approach to techie stuff - it has to be easy to use and make my life better. I have my house fully wired, with a surround sound system in my family room for music and TV viewing, but also drive music throughout the house as well as outdoors. I Internet stream content on all my devices at home, which provides a huge variety of entertainment to enjoy.