Smartphone-controlled lighting. That is one of the true signs that the future is now, ladies and gentlemen. And Philips is leading the charge with its [slightly expensive] Hue light bulbs. So, how do these bad boys work? Let's cut to video:

It's pretty simple, actually. So, when you buy a Hue starter pack (... $200), you get three light bulbs, and a wireless bridge device. The bridge, acting as a, well, bridge, links the light bulbs to your existing wireless router. The bulbs communicate with the bridge using ZigBee Light Link (an open, low-power Wi-Fi standard), and the bridge then communicates with your wireless network, which then communicates with your Android phone or tablet. Sweet.


So, what can you do with these light bulbs? A lot, actually - and for a long time. Philips says the 600 lumen (50W equivalent) LED bulbs have 15,000 hours of effective burn time, which should be enough to last for many years. At 1,000 hours of on-time a year, that would be 15 years, which is the estimated life span Philips provides. They also use 80% less electricity than halogen bulbs of comparable luminescence.

The bulbs, being LEDs, can be any color you want, and you can have dozens of preset color configurations saved using the Hue app. You can name them things like "Beach," "Sunset," or "Feet up" - whatever the hell that means. The other features you'd expect, like a brightness slider for individual bulbs (which you can name by their location) and an on/off toggle, are also present. Some things aren't, though - like timers, or on/off controls when you're not on your home Wi-Fi network. And that's likely because the Android app is still in beta, so hopefully they'll be added relatively soon.

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Really though, this is an awesome idea, and kudos to Philips for getting to the market with it first.

Your next question is likely how much the bulbs alone cost. Prepare your wallet for damage: $60 a pop. Yikes. Let's hope the popularity of the Hues (and maybe some competition) helps Philips drive down the cost. Regardless, this is a cool idea, and I am totally geeking out on these things. Want.

If you're looking to pick up the Hues, you'll have to do so at an Apple store - they're exclusive to Apple's brick and mortar retail locations for an unspecified period of time.

via TNW

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alexander-Drizzy-Rojas/100000186636833 Alexander Drizzy Rojas

    Wow, with $100 I could get a nexus 4

    • cy_n_ic

      I like my nexus on the wall. I like my nexus to light the hall. I like my nexus on the ceiling. Its great to have the techy feeling

      • Al McDowall

        Would you like it in a box?
        Is your bootloader unlocked?

        • http://www.facebook.com/andresdroid Andres Schmois

          What does that even....

          • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

            You disappoint in a many way
            read a book and it will pay
            Your brain may need some type of juice
            or simply pick up Dr Seuss

          • Err0xx

            I read the post and decided to play,
            as my nexus lit the way.
            I turned on the lights to play my part,
            only to discover the smell in my nostrils was a shart.
            Provoked by this thread's humor- removing all despair,
            I now journey beyond for a clean pair of underwear.

          • Al McDowall

            Erroxx you missed the point
            The meter's strict, you can't disjoint
            Your poetry mid flow like that
            Have you not read Cat In The Hat?

            George Millhouse and Cynic:Fantastic!
            All your rhymes are far from drastic.
            What a truly pleasant way
            To pass the time on a working day.

        • cy_n_ic

          Yes on youtube i will unbox Yes it is for sure unlocked. Yes my sir this phone is grand. We all need one for each hand!

        • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

          would you turn it on in Japan
          with godzilla and Rhodan?

    • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

      um what USED??

  • Juan Rodriguez

    Only available at Apple stores? Explains the excessively high price tag. =P

  • Bariman43

    ... Okay, that's really freaking cool. Imagine having to get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. Pick up your phone, turn the lights on at the lowest setting so you don't go blind, then do the same for the bathroom light, all without even getting out of bed. I'll be picking one of these up once a cheaper price is settled on.

    • Hugh

      Or just us your phone to light your way. Why make it unnecessarily hard or expensive to take a piss?

      • skitchbeatz

        Because it's cool, bro.

      • http://www.facebook.com/andresdroid Andres Schmois

        When I first read this, I thought you were going to say something cool like using some type of technology to let your phone turn the lights on around you while you walk, wasting less electricity (but then again, these things probably waste electricity while off anyways). Anyways I digress, an app that follows you with lights would be great, let's hope that the light bulb being sold only in Apple Stores doesn't make the app closed and no API can be built for it.

        • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

          The software is open source and Philips is working on a dev kit. I'm not sure what the best option would be for tracking your location in a relatively small space like a home - maybe some kind of low power bluetooth zones or something? Tasker could do the rest once the API is open (though in theory these should work with any zigbee implementation).

          • Kyle Todd

            Now I'm just curious as to whether you could get away without having extra detection devices in each room to locate your phone. Could you possibly use each 'hue bulb' to detect some signal broadcasted from your Bluetooth?

          • http://www.facebook.com/andresdroid Andres Schmois

            Problem is, I don't think these bulbs have bluetooth, they are controlled through wifi (through my belief). I think re-making the bulb system with infrared sensors or ultra-sonic sensors would be cheaper/easier.

  • Ryuuie

    I saw $200 then scrolled all the way down to announce my displeasure. Now I'm moving on to another AP article that hopefully won't make my wallet cry tears of blood as it's reminded that it's not payday yet. >:/

    Seriously thought...$200? For LIGHTBULBS? Wasn't that the cost of the very first incandescent light bulb? :v If I'm gonna spend $200 on some light bulbs, I might as well put that $200 on a Nexus 7 or something and have that light power a screen that can do more than just make a room bright with an app.

    • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

      This does more than just make a room bright with an app. In fact, making a room bright I would say isn't even the main purpose of these bulbs. These are better for accent type lighting.

      Think of it this way - it's not much more than painting a wall, and in this case you get to change the colors. Also, for people like me who rent painting is not an option. Combine that with features like being able to control it from your phone, create timers and alarms, etc. and develop for it (soon), I'd say it's not an awful deal. Maybe not a great deal, but not awful.

      I've attached a picture of the lights up in my apartment. I think they look great and I'd be willing to bet I get a lot of compliments.

      • Ryuuie

        Even if it can do all of that, it's still a $200 light bulb. I can get one of those LED lights that doesn't need a light bulb for that. The most I've seen is $50-$60. That still leaves wiggle room if you have $200.

  • Justin W

    So.. It uses an Android App, and is exclusive to Apple stores... Does anyone else find this ironic?

    • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

      what demonic contract did they sign to do that?

    • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

      its also for iOS

  • arthur


  • naduh

    Is this philips version of lifx??

  • cramleir

    I work as a commercial energy auditor, and have installed hundreds of Philips LED lamps in place of standard incandescent/CFL. At commercial usage the ROI can be quite quick. Home use...well, you won't have to replace for 15 years, right?

  • Deltaechoe

    All i know is that I want lightbulbs that I can control with my phone. This is an insanely awesome idea and I'll probably end up getting the ones on the kickstarter project that was linked in this article instead of the phillips ones (phillips android apps are very much terrible)

    • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

      True that. I will be working on a less terrible app once they release their API.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

    i want wait for others to do this and less expensive I want !!

  • PabloNZ

    It wasn't that long ago that energy efficient bulbs were that price. In less than 5 years there will be all sorts of knock off's to drive the price down.

    I'm certainly keeping an eye on this. I also think a simpler solution might have been one which was integrated into the network over powerlines stuff that's out there so there is no need for individual device wifi, just a 'bridge' connected up and you're away and laughing.


    • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

      I bet zigbee is not that much more expensive than doing network over powerline stuff.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

    OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO I just read...it IS for iOS and Android
    not just android , hence why it can be sold in Apple stores

    • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

      im suprised the article didnt mention that if they even knew

    • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse

      and the iOS version has the out of house controls that the android lacks for now

      • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

        Android also lacks some other things, like timer settings and a few other features that iOS has.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Shinakuma George Millhouse
  • http://twitter.com/oritzvielli Ori Tzvielli

    way too expensive!

  • Kent Seaton

    I will never step foot in an apple store. I'd rather wait until it's available elsewhere or a competing product.

    • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

      Why? The Apple store is actually a pretty great retail experience. For a lot of things you can enter the store, pay on your phone, and leave without ever talking to a single Apple store employee.

  • xx00xx

    "At 1,000 hours of on-time a year, that would be 15 years, which is the estimated life span Philips provides"
    i am really fed up with all this bull shi$ claims.

    why did i just replace a fluorescent light that had huge life expectancy ( after 2 month)?

  • John
  • Ryan Young

    While cool that you can change colors, it's not exactly new, or first, or even the cheapest. The Smartlinc setup from Insteon does pretty much the exact same thing. http://www.smarthome.com/2672-222/INSTEON-LED-Bulb/p.aspx

    • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

      Pretty much the exact same thing except it only does one color, which isn't the exact same thing at all.

  • Matthew Fry

    wait wait. The lights connect to a wireless bridge? Is that wireless between the router and the bridge or wireless between the light and the bridge or both?

  • Freak4Dell

    This is very cool. I don't know that I would ever use it in my house, because I like the normal warm or cool white, but it'd be awesome for outdoor lights. They might be useful as low-budget stage lighting for some places, too. Of course, these are probably not bright enough for either use, but I'm sure brighter versions will come out soon.

  • http://twitter.com/troybal Tobias Roybal

    LOL I like how the video shows the lady turning to her phone to click swipe to the app location then to the app itself to turn on the light that is sitting at arms length. Really do people need this?

  • Peter Moors
  • Peter Moors

    Hue Disco really is a beautifull addon for these lights. I'm lovin' it! https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nl.ijsdesign.huedisco