If you’re a 90’s kid like me you may remember the Disney Channel Classic from 1999, Smart House. If you’re not familiar with this treasure of cinema history let me break it down for you. A kid enters a contest and wins a, you guessed it, Smart House. It automates everything from cooking, cleaning, and even throwing a secret house party for tweens before eventually going Skynet in a G rated fashion. Now I know you’re clamoring to find and watch this gem but stick with me here so I can tell you about a real Smart Home product. Enter Philips Hue, a system of Internet-connected and app-controlled smart home lighting products.
Recently I was lucky enough to be able to test out a couple of the components in the Philips Hue system, including the Hue White LED Starter Kit and Hue Go Personal Wireless Light. Setup consisted of swapping out my existing light bulbs for the Hue bulbs, plugging in the Hue Go to charge, connecting the Bridge unit to my wireless router using the included cable, and downloading the Hue App onto my phone. Now came for the fun part, making my home a Smart Home!
The first feature I played with was using the app adjusting the brightness level of the lights. Using a simple slider bar, I was instantly able to dim the lights in the room to put on a movie, which gave it a real theater-like feel. Later I wanted a drink, so turned the lights back up from my phone and revealed my cat George hiding in wait behind the ottoman, waiting to be stepped on. Not only can the brightness of any of the Hue lights be adjusted, but many can even have their color changed across a massive spectrum. This color control allows you to change the mood or theme of a whole room, and even add accent lighting almost anywhere.
The next feature I tested was Geofencing, which uses your phone's location via GPS to turn programmed lights on and off when you arrive or leave home. Before leaving one evening with my wife, I set all the lights to turn off as we left and to turn on full brightness when we arrived home again. While it was difficult to notice when we left as the sun was still out, upon arriving home we could clearly see our apartment was dark. As we approached the building we saw the lights in the living room and bedroom turn on just as I had set them to.
But of all these features, my personal favorites are the alarm and timer settings. Much to the trepidation of my wife, I would regularly leave lights on after going to bed late at night. Now, the lights I would have left on are set to automatically turn off at 1 am, and now more often than not will actually remind me that I should go to bed. Come morning they will slowly turn on a just few minutes before the alarm goes off, helping to gently wake us up.
While my wife enjoyed the ability to dim and turn off the lights in our bedroom from her phone without having to get out of bed, she used the Hue Go Personal Wireless Light more than anything. A portable light about the size of a melon sliced in half, it can be bright enough to light up a full room with any color, carried to light your way at night, or dimmed down to make for a relaxing nightlight; my wife’s preferred use. Featuring full control through the App just like the Hue Bulbs, it also comes with 5 preset themes of varying brightness and colors, which can be independently changed by pressing the small button on the bottom.
All features combined with these and other Hue Products enable you to easily control, program, and access your home's lighting. Whether you program your lights to automatically turn on at night while you’re away on vacation or create a romantic dinner setting with warm dim lighting and the flickering candle preset on the Hue Go like my wife and I did, the Hue system is an excellent addition to any up and coming Smart House.