As ITProPortal stalked the aisles of the CU Exposed show in Covent Garden this week, we couldn’t help but be drawn to the brightly coloured glowing orbs towards the back of the room. We weren’t the only ones either, as the intriguing Phillips Hue wireless lighting system drew a steady throng to its stand throughout the afternoon.
Picking up a plain looking Phillips light bulb doesn’t immediately give you the sense you’re handling an exciting piece of new technology, but Hue has a few tricks in the locker to make switching on the lights a decidedly more interesting experience than usual.
The LED tech inside Hue bulbs enable it to display any colour in the spectrum, while connectivity with the Hue Bridge hub (circular device pictured below) and a dedicated app gives the user power to wirelessly control up to 50 individual bulbs from their smartphone or tablet.
The Hue Bridge plugs directly into your wireless router and links up with the free app - available for Apple and Android devices – which was strikingly simple to use. Bringing a personal element to the system and allowing you to create more natural colour tones, the user can upload a photograph of their own and drag a cursor over the image to select which colour is transmitted.
The Hue team at CU Exposed demoed the feature with a sunset photo (left), and the connected bulb responded seamlessly to radiate a warm orange glow that would bring welcome ambience to a gloomy living room.
Hue also provides an appealing alternative to the traditional sleep-sabotaging audio alarm, with a timer allowing you to pre-set an awakening light to ease you into the day a little more gently.
There’s clearly a lot going for the product, and Hue representatives said this had been reflected in sales when it was first brought to market at the end of 2012. Up to now, Phillips Hue bulbs have been sold exclusively via Apple’s App Store, but with the CU Exposed display increasing the interest and momentum behind the tech, the company hopes to widen availability to other outlets in the near future.
But a sticking point, at this stage, may be the pricing. A single bulb (right) retails for £49.95, and this doesn’t even include the Hue Bridge which is required for operation. So to actually get your system up and running you need to dive in with the starter pack consisting of three bulbs, the bridge, a power supply, and a LAN cable for a fairly hefty £179.95. And if you like the look of those big glowing domes above, they’re not included.
We’re nevertheless pretty convinced by Hue and feel it could be lighting up a fair few living rooms by the end of the year.