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Philips Hue turns your smartphone into a lighting system

Posting in Energy

Philips has introduced a Wi-Fi-enabled LED lighting system that lets users create and control the brightness--and even the color--of the bulbs using any smartphone or tablet.

A starter kit, which includes three bulbs and a bridge that plugs into a home Wi-Fi router, will be sold exclusively at Apple's U.S. stores for $199. Additional bulbs are $59 apiece.

How it works

The networked bulbs, which incorporate Philips' AmbiLight TV technology, can be screwed into any regular light socket. The LED bulbs can display different tones of white light from warm yellow white to vibrant blue white, Philips said. The bulbs can also recreate just about any color in the spectrum.

The bridge, which plugs into a wireless router and can support up to 50 bulbs at a time, creates a link between the LED lights and a smart phone app.

The app turns a smart phone into a control room of sorts, allowing users to change the color and brightness of the lights; create a programmable timer; and turn the lights on and off remotely.

The app also allows users to capture colors from any photo and then recreate the effect in your room. The feature lets you take a photo of your wedding reception, for instance, and apply that lighting tone to your own home. The personal light settings can be saved and reused anytime.

Philips also created a number pre-programmed settings called light recipes, which create specific lighting environments for reading, relaxing and other activities.

Philips opened up the Hue app to the developer community and has created an open source platform at www.meethue.com.

Future features

Philips is already developing future product features, including coordinating the light system with sound and video. The company also is working on features such as geo-location services, which would sense when your proximity to home and automatically on the lights or turn them off once you leave.

Philips isn't the only company to develop wireless LED lighting. Lifx, which has created Wi-Fi-enabled multi-color LED bulb, has raised more than $1.3 million for its project on Kickstarter.

Photo: Philips

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— By on October 30, 2012, 2:29 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure