I’ve been looking to start a Smart Home revolution in my home for quite some time now. It started with Amazon Echo and Alexa, asking her to play my favourite songs and tell me the time. However, I knew there was more and I wanted a taste of it. Step forward the Philips Hue White and Colour Ambiance Wireless Lighting Starter Kit, a way for me to tell Alexa to turn on and off the lights, while also being able to choose between 16 million colours and thanks to some impressive third party apps, even have a disco.
When it came to choosing Phillips Hue lights, I had a bit of an issue, since every bulb in our home was changed to a spotlight following some renovation. So in this respect, I decided to go down the lamp route, picking up a few cheap FADO lamps from IKEA. Given the starter pack includes three bulbs and the bridge, I opted for three lamps, although such is my excitement with this new toy, I’ll be adding another, along with a Phillips Hue Lightstrip to place behind the TV.
Setting up the starter kit couldn’t be simpler. All you have to do is download the Phillips Hue app, hook your bridge up to the ethernet using a LAN cable and then follow the simple steps. This will then find your bulbs and you can light up the room, choosing between 16 million colours or a huge range of whites, while even having the option of deciding how bright you want the lights to be.
One of my favourite features of the app is the ability to set scenes. There are already a few preset, such as Savanna Sunset, which will set the three bulbs to different shades of orange to replicate a sunset. There are a few others too, offering a similar effect with different colours. You can even set your own scenes using any picture in your camera roll. All you need to do is pick a picture and the app will pick colours from it and set the scene. You can then save this custom scene and name it whatever you like.
Obviously, being smart bulbs, there are other features too. You can set the light to switch on and off when you arrive home or leave the house. You can set a timer to use as a reminder, so for instance, if you have something in the oven, you can set the lights to change when your food is ready. There are many possibilities and they are all fun to play around with.
Playing around with the app, you’ll also notice you can download some third party apps. These include the likes of Hue Disco, which allows you to change the lights to the beat of any music you are playing, and as the name suggests, have a disco. There’s also Hue Camera. This allows you to face your phone’s camera at the TV and the lights react to what you are watching on TV. You will need to point your phone at the TV the whole time, but it works well, giving a similar effect to Phillps Ambilight.
My favourite feature is the Alexa integration. Once you have set up the lights, all you need to do is activate the Hue skill within the Alexa app, press the bridge button and then discover devices. This will then allow you to turn lamps on and off wherever you have them in the house, as well as being able to brighten and dim them and even change colours. This works amazingly well and has everyone in our home playing with them constantly.
I honestly can’t wait to place these bulbs all around the home, as at the moment we only have them in the living room. It’ll be great asking Alexa to turn on the bedroom light before we go upstairs or to turn on the kitchen lights before we head in to cook. It may all seem a little silly really, but it’s the perfect start to my smart home revolution.