5 Cool Things to Do With Philips Hue
We’ve spoken a little bit about how cool Philips’ Hue connected light bulbs are in the past. But what we haven’t talked about is all the cool things you can do with these bulbs once you have them. Philips made it super easy for developers to create apps and services that connect to their lights, and the result is a ton of neat features that add to the overall experience.
We want to touch on a few here, and recommend some apps and services to try out that we’ve found pretty cool ourselves. Some of them enhance your music listening or movie watching experience, while others have useful and even potentially life-saving applications.
Here are our five most favorite things to do with Hue.
1. Sync Hue with your TV
Your Hue lights can make the movie watching experience that much better. Head over to the App Store and download Hue Camera. This $3.99 app uses your iOS device’s camera to change the colors of your Hue lights based on the colors the camera sees.
We’ve tried this out, using it on a Game of Thrones episode. Sure enough our lights changed colors, turning a deep orange and red during parts of the opening title sequence, and muted whites and blues during the scenes at The Wall. It does take a little bit of tinkering to get it to your liking, but the capability to choose which lights are activated as well as the intensity of the colors is a nice feature.
Be prepared for a little trial and error though. It did take us a little bit to get everything working smoothly and to our liking. Also, Android users, unfortunately there is no app available for you at the moment.
2. Sync it to music
Both Android and iOS users can sync their Hue bulbs to music. There are quite a few apps out there for this, but the highest rated one available on both platforms is a $3.99 app called Hue Disco (iOS available here, Android here). The app uses your microphone to listen for sound, and then will change your lights to the beat of the music using either a set of pre-programmed color schemes or one you create on your own.
We like the fact that you can adjust the microphone sensitivity, which seems to limit the amount of background noise interference. You can also change the intensity of the color and their brightness much like Hue Camera, and it even shows you when the sound is loud enough to trigger the lighting effects so you can fine tune the app’s sensitivity to your liking.
3. Use Hue with IFTTT
Philips supports IFTTT, which stands for “If This, Then That.” IFTTT is a simple scripting language that allows you to trigger certain things based on the events of another. For example, if you get a post to your Facebook timeline, you can set up an IFTTT recipe to flash your Hue lights to alert you.
There are also other cool ways to make your Hue lights more useful, such as turning on certain lights at sunset (we have this set to turn on the porch lights at dark, and then another to turn them off at midnight). If you have a Nest Protect smoke alarm, you can even tell your Hue bulbs to turn red if it detects smoke or carbon monoxide.
There are so many different ways to use IFTTT that we could spend a whole article on those alone, so give it a try. IFTTT has many other uses than just Hue, so it’s worth checking out.
4. Turn your Hue lights on when you arrive, off when you leave
Even if you don’t own a smart hub, Philips Hue’s own app can turn your lights off and on for you when you leave or arrive at your home. The setting is found by tapping “Routines,” then “Home & Away.” Tap the slider for “Location aware” to enable the feature. Be sure to adjust the Coming home and Leaving home options to turn on the lights you like, and if you want these routines to only activate after sunset.
We should note that IFTTT can also do this for you, but since it is a part of Hue’s own app now, we recommend using the Hue app’s built-in features to activate the lights. Our experience has shown the lights seem to be a little more responsive to you arriving or leaving with the Hue app rather than IFTTT.
5. Let them warn you of severe weather
While we have already talked about IFTTT here, we wanted to highlight one potential use of the service for a potentially life-saving application. CNET’s Megan Wollerton found a way to use the service to alert you of incoming severe weather. Essentially what IFTTT does is monitor the National Weather Service’s warning RSS feed for your specific area, and when it sees a new warning posted, it changes the color of your lights.
We’ve tried it, and it works. If you live in an area prone to severe weather, definitely try out this custom recipe for yourself. Who knows, it could even save your life.
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