As we know, the smarthome market is already flooded with devices which you can buy and cram into your house or apartment, but, if I asked you the question: “If you were to begin making your home smart, what would the first smart device you buy be?”, what would you answer?
Quite interestingly, some time ago I did a survey which aimed to find out how widely-spread the ideas of IoT, smarthome and connected devices are and, naturally, asked this question (giving the survey participants the choice between different types of smart devices that are already on the market).The answers distributed in percentage values were as follows:
As you can observe, in the present day people are the most liable to invest their money devoted for the first smarthome device in buying an appliance that will improve energy efficiency, a device which will help them in the day-to-day activities at home or a gadget that will keep them more secure – that’s what the top answers say. Personally, I expected the results to be like so, because, to me as well, an efficient remote-controlled heating/cooling appliance also is the first-priority choice for a smart system to provide my home with. Also, security is quite important as well – smart smoke detectors and alarm systems can prevent you and your family in the most dangerous situations. Finally, considering the smart kitchen devices which have won a silver medal in the survey – I know, ladies (and many gentlemen as well), such robot-like ovens, coffee machines and fridges are really helpful in all kitchen-located processes and I understand why you have voted for them! However, the question which comes to my mind here is why ambient lighting (represented by smart light bulbs) has gone so low in the choice list (only 4% share) and why do people forget or don’t pay attention to ambient lighting at all?
Actually, I also felt just like the survey participants – to me ambient lighting was something cool that premium car manufacturers offered as extra equipment for their cars, but in the sense of my home – this looked to me as an expensive and useless luxury. I had the opinion that you only need artificial light at home just to be able to see in the night, but my mind changed when I met Philips Hue.
In essence, Philips Hue is a system based on intuitive smart LED technology which provides you with the ability to set your home ambient lighting the way you want at the touch of a hand. It consists of three major components. Firstly, we have the so-called Philips Hue Bridge. It’s a little square (or, for the previous generation Hue technology, rounded) device with a single button on it. You connect it to the electricity and to the Internet network at home and you are ready to go. Secondly, we have got the Hue bulbs – there are numerous types of them, but the important thing is they are smart and communicate wirelessly with the bridge (using the ZigBee protocol). The different bulb (or light) models come with different features as well – some of them are regular E27 socket bulbs (like the Lux one) which you can stick in any possible lamp and have smart lighting. Others like the Iris and the Go are modern stylish-designed lamps which can be fitted perfectly into your interior (the Go, for example, can be charged and used without being connected to the electricity mains as well). Finally, the third component is the Philips Hue mobile app which provides us with the ability to control our smart lamps and bulbs remotely via accessing the bridge.
So, if you are still messed-up with how the Philips Hue system works, well, in essence, you connect the bridge to the Internet and to the electrical mains, you wire-up all Philips bulbs and lights you have (via sticking their plugs to the electrical mains’ sockets or winding them in the lamp sockets, depending on which models you have got), push the single button on the bridge so that it scans for bulbs, finds them and incorporates them in your home WiFi network, install the mobile app, register the bridge for it and you are ready – your Philips Hue system is set up. From that point on, you can freely control and set your ambient lighting at home. Almost all of the bulbs are provided with dimming functionality (their brightness can be set using a scale based on percentage values) and several of the models are provided with the functionality to radiate light in any possible color following the hue CIECAM02 color appearance model. So, it is up to you to decide what Philips lighting product you need – dimmable bulbs to put in the regular sockets of your lamps, color bulbs to use for the same existing lamps, or fully-fledged color lamps.
So, what do Philips give you and why ambient lighting is so cool and I fell in love with it?
Well, first of all, it is a fact that differently colored light can trigger a variety of human emotions. I know, bright luminescent light in the shades of white and blue is really good for…lighting everything up, but isn’t it really disgusting, making your home look like an industrial building? And, just to ask, would you feel comfortable to watch a romantic movie in such light? And, considering movie watching, do you regularly feel your eyes tired after watching a film in an entirely dark room?
You have probably already got my point – ambient light can play a significant role to what and how you feel when being at home. It is a natural human reflex to react to artificial light and, in order for our brains to react by giving us the feeling of comfort, we need to ensure our ambient lighting is set just so. It is scientifically proven that green light can make us feel relaxed and calm, while soft yellow light can increase the feeling of warmth, snugness and coziness or help us increase our concentration. Blue light, on the other hand, can help our eyes adapt in the dark when watching a movie, thus resulting in them not being tired after the movie ends. And, let’s not forget about red light – when you are training at home for example, red light can really boost your energy, triggering your internal desire for progress and glory. So, why not making use of ambient lighting?
I personally love the Philips Hue system, because it is energy efficient (and uses modern LED technology which can provide, at maximum brightness level, 800 lumens of light, reaching a 60-watt bulb equivalence) and the mobile app is provided with numerous helpful features such as the ability to map your lights to virtual rooms which correspond to the real rooms of your house, which helps you easily know which lamp you are sending commands to (you can also personalize lamp names as well).
The application also comes with built-in lighting modes (appropriate for situations like those described above) and scenarios where you can define a chain of events which can trigger different lights in a variety of ways. The app is really intuitive and provides the power of ambient lighting in your palm.
Considering ambient lighting, we shall not forget that, besides Philips, there is a new kid on the block – Lifx – which is quickly conquering new territories and is chasing Philips with a greater pace by the day. There is even one more excellent smart light alternative as well – Stack is another company which produces smart lighting devices. So, we can accept Philips Hue as the world leader which is a little bit ahead of the rivals, but its products do not necessarily outperform other smart lighting manufacturers’ ones. What about prices then? Well, no matter if it comes to Philips Hue, Lifx or other manufacturer, smart bulbs are pricey – you can get a starter pack for around $200, but it includes, e.g. three color bulbs which fit in regular E27 sockets and the bridge. And let’s not forget that for a home of an average size that’s pretty much enough to begin with and that, since you once own the bridge, you can always extend your smart lighting system by adding yet another bulb from time to time (which does not reduce the cost, of course, but won’t make you feel that much extra weight on your budget).
Now you know that, although there are more important areas of your home which you may make smart first, ambient lighting is quite important, because, although all smart devices share the same goal – to bring end customers more comfort – ambient lighting comes with some additional coolness added to it – it brings relaxing feeling to your life. I still have not equipped my home with smart ambient lighting, but I have planned that to happen quite soon. So, why don’t you think about it too?
All the best,