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Summary:

Philips is giving its connected Hue light bulb an update that connects it to IFTTT so people can tie their light bulbs into existing web services. It’s also adding a location-aware feature and scheduling.

Do you unscrew these $60 light bulbs when you move?
photo: Philips

Hold onto your Hue lightbulbs, because Philips is updating its connected lights and the app that controls them with some new capabilities. The most fun element is a partnership with IFTTT, the startup that allows you to link your connected devices — like your color-changing lightbulbs — to your web services with an easy few-step process.

This means you could create an IFTTT recipe that lets your Hue bulb turn a different color, or blink when a file is uploaded to your Dropbox, an email comes in or it’s going to rain. IFTTT already has a partnership with Belkin’s WeMo, so hooking it up to the Hue seems right on track.

To me, the IFTTT partnership is the most exciting, but others may like the geofencing aspect that can automatically turn on or change the light’s settings as a Hue user arrives home — without the user even having to take their smartphone out of their pocket. That, plus a feature that lets users schedule their use settings on a calendar as opposed to resetting them every day were added in response to user demand.

Philips has been riding a wave of success in the developer community since launching the lightbulbs last October. Despite the $200 price tag for a starter kit containing three bulbs and $59 price tag for each bulb, many tech-savvy people are picking them up and playing with them. In March it opened up its software development kit to make that play easier and give larger companies the tools and support to integrate the bulbs into their own connected home products.

Today’s features just tie it even more into a developing network of connected devices that can communicate with each other over the web — a vision the creators of the Hue seem to embrace based on my discussion of how they view the internet of things during a podcast in March.

  1. It’s good that they are coming up with more functionality but their Android version seems to be falling further and further behind (it is still not up to the 1.0 iOS spec) which is frustrating for Android users (or users who use a combination of iOS/Android devices).

    Fortunately, the API is open which allows 3rd party developers to help fill the gap.

    From a hardware perspective, would like to see more Hue form factors (how about 100 watt incandescent equivalent to start; spot/floodlights, candelabra, vanity globes would all be nice too). And a price reduction at some point would also be welcome.

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