Philips, Apple offer web-controlled LED lighting

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When they say ‘there’s an app for that’ most people weren’t talking about their lighting options. Not anymore however, because there’s a new LED light bulb from Philips that they’re calling ‘Hue’ that can be remotely turned on and off using an app that will work on any iOS or Android mobile device.

Not only will the new LED bulbs be controllable as far as turning them on and off when you like but also they will be able to change colors from ‘cool’ to ‘warm’ and about 16 million other colors in between at your digital command.  The new system will be offered through Apple stores only (even though there’s an Android app for them) and will be priced at $199.00 for what Philips is calling their ‘starter kit’, which includes three Hue LED bulbs, a ‘bridge’ unit that will connect to a wireless router and the downloadable app that you need to make the whole thing work.

The coolest thing about this new lighting system is that the app will be able to control up to 50 bulbs.  If you think about the applications for businesses like restaurants and bars to create lighting schemes of all different colors it really starts to sound cool. The app will allow settings that have been used to be saved also so that they can be recalled for use later if wanted.

Another factor that ups the coolness quotient is that the Hue bulbs are going to come with the new ZigBee Light Link communications system.  This means that as long as one Hue bulb is in contact with the Wi-Fi router (by way of the bridge) the complete system and all of the bulbs connected will be able to function.

This will also allow the Hue units to be integrated with motion sensors and home thermostats as well as the ability to update the Hue bulbs remotely and automatically.

Future plans for the Hue bulbs and the ZigBee system are even cooler.  Imagine a lighting system that will respond to audio and video activity from your TV or sound system, or a system that taps into your geo-location via your mobile device so that it knows when you’re nearing home and can start turning on the lights around the house before you arrive. They are even talking about adding a sensor type system that will tell when the bulbs haven’t been used in a certain amount of time and send an alert, an application that could be used for the care of elderly people who may not have constant care.

Philips is also offering a software developer kit to third parties who want to develop their own additional apps for the new Hue system.  Philips of course wants final say on any and all new apps to make sure that they are ‘viable’ (i.e. don’t compete with them directly).

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