Two recent additions to the Philips Hue lighting product line have transformed the system from an interesting gadget to a serious business tool. The two new products, a light strip and desktop lamp, are ideal for display windows and internal store lighting. Previously the only type of Hue bulb available was one that resembled a standard light bulb. The new products greatly extend capability of the Hue system.
Philips shows off all three types of Hue lights in the photo above. The light on the desk in the right side of the photo, projecting a blue light against the wall, is the new LivingColors Bloom Lamp. The light projecting the orange glow under the sofa is the new Hue Light Strip. The light casting the yellow glow in the central left is a lamp with the original Hue bulb.
The lighting effect manages to be both subtle and conspicuous, familiar and new. New is an overused word in the advertising industry, but in this case it's actually appropriate. When was the last time you were in a living room that had a colored light on under the sofa or kitchen counter? For that matter, when was the last time you were in a retail store that had multicolored accent lighting?
So far Philips has targeted the home market and largely ignored the business market. This may be a mistake. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to apply the lights in Philips demo living room to a window or store display. There are certainly millions more consumers than businesses, but businesses are more likely to need Hue badly enough to pay a minimum of $50 a light bulb, and $90 or more for the new lamp and light strips. OK, these are expensive, but they're not your average lights.
The Hue LivingColors Bloom shown above can display any of 16 million colors at 120 lumens. It's essentially a one piece bulb and lamp stand that seems to be emerging the countertop rather than just resting on it. Given its shape the Bloom is ideal for store window displays. Current pricing through Amazon is $90 per lamp.
The Light Strip shown above is sold in lengths of 2 meters and can be cut to size and bent to whatever shape is needed. Like the Bloom, the strip can display 16 million colors at 120 lumens. The Light Strip can fit in places few lights can, making it great for accents and special effects lighting. Estimated street price will be around $100.
Both bulbs require a bridge and mobile device app to operate, and these are available in the Hue basic package. This includes 3 LED bulbs, an iPhone app and a bridge, a box about the size of a router. The app talks to the bridge and the bridge manages the lights by wireless connection. The bridge also has an Ethernet port to allow your desktop and laptops to drive the Hue system with full blown intelligent interactive effects, but the iPhone and Android apps can do that too.
The Hue app allows the user to create, save and share different lighting settings in a file called a recipe. The settings can either be constant, or vary over some period of time, or be triggered by a variety of events. The Hue app comes preloaded with four Light Recipes - Relax, Concentrate, Energize and Reading. In the future there may be a Hue system for businesses preloaded with light settings including Buy on Impulse, Buy On Sale Items, Buy Gift Items, and Buy Food.
It's now possible to equip a retail store with a lighting system that interactively responds with the customers present. The system could be made to vary the light based on the type of merchandize the customers were looking at, or the sex or age of the customers. And more. Much more.
It's possible to create an intelligent store lighting system now that could try various lighting effects and learn which were better for sales. If my memory serves, a couple years ago a restaurant in a shopping mall switched to a bright pale blue light for the interior lighting. They were happy to discover that it made the energy levels of their dinner crows picked up. People talked more, they responded to the live music better, and most of all they ate more and spent more. It turns out there's a scientific explanation.
For hundreds of thousands, humans, and most other mammals, have been getting up at the first light of dawn. Dawn is when most predators start hunting, so it really pays to be wide awake then. Not surprisingly, our bodies evolved a sensitivity to pale blue light. Since the restaurant's customers were tired from being at the end of their work day, the light reset their bodies to behave as if it were morning, with a lot of energy and an appetite.
The Hue app is now compatible with IFTTT, a service that enables you to connect your hue lights to over 60 different products and services with IFTTT Recipes. It uses a very simple IF THEN command. If some condition happens, like an email arriving, or a customer enters a changing room, then the following light setting is initiated, like a light changing color or brightness.
The possibilities of the Hue system are limited only by the imagination, and commercial development is underway. Philips has released a developer package to encourage development of Hue compatible products by third party developers, and we can expect some amazing products in the near future. We'll keep you posted. Meanwhile, visit www.meethue.com
Note: We're now offering a sensor module to automate testing of Hue systems, for sale or for rent. Email Glen at amreview1 at yahoo.com for more info.
Glen Emerson Morris was a senior QA Consultant for SAP working on a new product to help automate compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley law, an attempt to make large corporations at least somewhat accountable to stockholders and the law.
He has worked as a technology consultant for Yahoo!, Ariba, WebMD, Inktomi, Adobe, Apple and Radius.