Hue | A Simple DIY Smart Home

One of the most intriguing and difficult to find solutions for a DIY smart home is light control. Not lamp control which SmartThings is a great solution for but light control. As in porch lights, ceiling lights, recessed lights, etc. Pretty much anything controlled by a traditional wall switch.

Sure, you could tear out all of your analog switches and replace them with expensive home automation switches as seen here but with the kind of technology we have today shouldn’t there be a better solution? Why can’t bulbs be wireless? Up until this year, this was pretty much a pipe dream.

Back in January Katie and I found this guy (see below). The Insteon LED WiFi bulb. It was cool, it was tempting, and, well, it was honestly the only product on the market. Truth-be-told we were actually going snag a couple to see if it would work for us but they were out of stock for about 6 months… So we waited.

I kept an eye on their stock status while hoping that other companies would eventually catch on and sure enough LIFX (a wildly successful kickstarter project) did. – Mind you, I am awful at patience (trust me, I’m working on it) so this was a great lesson in self-control, responsibility, and proved that waiting can in fact pay off. Anywho… back to the real purpose of this post. Here is LIFX:


Now, what’s cool about LFIX is that they didn’t just settle for the status quo of wireless bulbs, no, they went above and beyond. Their system allowed the user to set moods, change colors, sync to music, flash alerts, create sleep settings and wakeup settings, etc. It was a great idea and their crowed funding proves that people are genuinely interested in this technology. Yeah, that’s $1.3M…

The downside? – They had an estimated launch date of March 2013. And that’s just an estimate. Is this necessarily a bad thing? Absolutely not, everybody is rooting for them and would like to see them succeed. Like any good product they need to take their time to ensure that it is done right rather than simply done quickly.

So while I’m a huge fan of LIFX, they still have a long way to go. They’re a startup, they’re new to the game, they’ve got a lot to learn (in theory), but they seem to be headed down the right path. I decided to wait (yet again) to see what else was in the pipeline. Turns out that was (again) a smart idea.

Just yesterday, it was announced that Phillips would be launching ‘Hue’ to the public via none other than your friendly neighborhood Apple Store.

What’s great is that Hue appears to do just about everything that LIFX is capable of. And the best part? They go on sale tomorrow, Oct 30.

They will retail at about the same price as LIFX’s kickstarter pricing which is ~$59 a bulb. With a $199 starter kit that includes the syncing module and 3 bulbs (seen above). Yes, that’s pricey, but 1) it is a new technology so that is the price of early adoption, 2) the bulbs are LED bulbs meaning they’ll last about 15-20 years and 3) as LEDs, they’ll cost very little to operate.

The bulb’s light emission is equal to that of a 50w incandescent light bulb while only actually using 8.5w.

Take a look at the video below to get an idea of how it works:


Ok, not gonna lie, I like LIFX’s video much better… So why am I so excited about Hue? Well, for one, Apple has a rigorous process surrounding what it does and doesn’t allow in it’s retail stores. So Apple approval is basically like Apple endorsement. As a former Apple employee I have literally seen them pull brand name products from the shelves that didn’t meet their standard of quality. So while I’m rooting for the little guy (LIFX) I’m also trusting that the big guy (Philips) knows what they are doing (admittedly, though, LIFX’s app design looks a thousand times prettier).

It looks like I’ve found my solution, though, judging from the past two experiences, maybe I should wait…again… to see what’s next.

What are your thoughts? Would you prefer one over the other? Does light control intrigue you or are you happy to just use your traditional switches? Let’s hear your feedback in the comments below.

Here’s to the future of connected technology!