Hue update puts your color-change lighting at the mercy of the web
May 15, 2013
The app for Philips' smartphone-controlled color-changing LED light bulb, Hue, has been updated with a number of well-thought out additions which multiply the possibilities for automating its behavior in all sorts of interesting and useful ways.
First among these is support for geo-fencing, a process by which the location awareness of devices can be used to establish a person's location with respect to a predefined place. For Hue, this means that a light bulb can be set to change color or (more sensibly) turn off automatically when the users leave home, provided, that is, that they remember to take their smartphones with them. No actual interaction with the phone is required – the app combined with the phone's locational awareness takes care of it all.
Perhaps more exciting still is the added support for web service IFTTT. Short for if this then that, IFTTT is an extremely useful (and, more importantly, easy) service that acts as a go-between for other programs and apps, taking triggers from one to prompt actions in another. The color of the Hue could be changed according to the weather, for instance, or be set to blink in response to new incoming emails or SMS messages. Presumably Hue can be used as an input too, so automatically updating Twitter with "I've just turned my light on" and "I've just turned my light off" is now an option, and one that should prove effective in shedding followers in quick time. IFTTT supports 61 services in addition to Hue, so it ought to be possible to come up with at least one fun or useful recipe (the word for IFTTT doodads) for your circumstances.
The remaining additions fall into the "well duh" category. Alarms can now be set to recur, which is good. Cleverer, though, is the "randomize" feature, which slightly adjusts the times at which the lights turn on and off for a subtler approach to burglary deterrence. A new timer function has also been added, so the light bulb can be made to do a thing (flash, or change color, say), after a certain amount of time.
To reiterate, this is an app update for your smartphone, so new Hue bulbs are not required.
The video below repeats pretty much everything I've said already, but in easily-digestible audiovisual form.