The Internet of Things is the buzzword in technology these days. Or should we say it has been for the past few years. But it only now that we are getting access to devices and set-ups that will really bring this new web of connected things to life.
Yes, we have all used connected cameras and audio systems that can be controlled remotely by smartphones. But how about a scenario where all the lights in your house are controlled using a smartphone? Better still, what if they could be programmed to do more that just be lights? Well, this is exactly what Philips Hue wireless lighting systems aims to achieve.
What is Philips Hue
Philips Hue is an LED lighting system, but it is also intelligent in a way. It comes with bulbs, a bridge that helps you controls the lights and a smartphone app where the controlling happens.
Price: Rs 16,495 for Philips Hue Personal Wireless Lighting Starter Kit
How do you set it up?
Frankly, I was a bit intimidated with setting up a IoT setup. I have tried and failed more than once with Wi-Fi cameras as they can be so complicated. But the Philips Hue system is anything but complicated.
The bridge is the most important part of the rig and hence needs to be connected to your Wi-Fi router using a LAN cable and plugged into a power outlet. It will use the Wi-Fi network in your house to talk to the Hue bulbs. The Hue bulbs are regular LEDs, but need an adapter holder as we don’t use screwable bulbs in India.
Once the bridge is connected, with all three LEDs on it glowing solid, and the bulbs up where you want them to be, download the Philips Hue app on your iOS or Android smartphone. When installed use the app to connected to the bridge. After this is done, all the Hue bulbs in your house — ensure the power is on — will show up in the app. It would be better if you name them according to their location so that it becomes easier to control.
The app can then be used to create a variety of colour sequences on the LEDs and even to dim or brighten the same. In fact, there are straightforward options for reading, relaxing, etc which you will end using up more that the colours of the sea or sunset.
How good is it?
The entire Hue concept is a fun. It works well for people who have a lot of time on their hands. Working households like mine might not really bother about changing the hues of their lights depending on the mood or what they are watching on television that day.
However, where it really works is with the proper reading and relaxed settings, which is something that will go really well for all households. Also, the ability to dim or brighten lights is something I would love to have all the time, especially when I am trying to make my four-year-old sleep.
For those who travel a lot, the Hue app lets you create the impression that there is someone at home all the while.
Another feature I really liked was the alarm, which will wake you up by gradually increasing the light in the room. But I fear most of us will still need a loud alarm to wake us up.
Hue is still a nascent platform, especially in India. In other markets, you can download apps that like Hue to other IoT concept likes the Nest smart thermostat.
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But that does not prevent you from downloading a bunch of apps that make great use of Hues capabilities. For instance, the Ambify iOS app makes the lights dance according to the beats of the songs playing from your phones. There are many more apps of this kind, though the better ones are all paid.
Also, there are developers working on more practical uses, like using the lights to alert people of a ringing doorbell or phone in a house with hearing impaired people. The possibilities are endless.