It's cheaper than a new TV

Like those Philips lighting tracks for TV shows? They take time

Philips and the SyFy channel teamed up again to produce a lighting track for a television show — this time a season of 12 Monkeys — announced at International CES. After experiencing the lighting track for Sharknado, I was keen to see the 12 Monkeys effect. Sadly, I was sick with the flu, so my in-person demo turned into a phone call, but I will make sure I get a chance to watch the show to see the effects tuned to the four Hue lights in my living room

Since I think this sort of immersive entertainment experience is a great use case for splurging on what are admittedly some expensive light bulbs ($60 a pop), and the overall experience is so neat, I’d love to see more movies and shows build lighting tracks to go with their stories.

The lighting tracks sync lighting effects or add mood to the corresponding TV shows. It can be cool like mimicking lighting during a storm or add tension by adding creepy green undertones to a grim scene. Such a track might not add much to The Good Wife, but it would be awesome for Lost or even a show like True Detective.

But in a conversation with the Philips team I found out that creating a lighting track right now takes about 10 to 12 times the length of the show you’re mapping the lights to. So a 40-minute episode of 12 Monkeys takes someone about 8 hours to “score” with lights, according to George Yianni, the Philips Hue creator and architect. Yianni said the person designing the lighting uses an extension of the Philips Hue app added as a plug-in to a program called Watchwith already in use by studios to provide interactive experiences.

Philips is also showing off a similar immersive experience as part of gaming with a game called Chariots, where code to control the Philips Hue lights is written into the game to help indicate things like in-game bonuses, but also add to the immersive experience. Again, this is an awesome idea, although it is similar to an example I heard earlier in the week from Qualcomm as part of its AllJoyn lighting discussion.

As part of Microsoft joining the AllSeen Alliance that promotes the AllJoyn protocol and the smart lighting standard, one of the ideas is to make smart light bulbs react to Xbox and console games in a similar fashion — perhaps not covering the “designed” aspects as much, but flashing red if a player dies or blue if he gets a health boost. In the AllSeen example, though, using the standard would work across any bulbs that implement the code, as opposed to just the Philips Hue bulbs.

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