Philips Hue

So, you've decided your lightbulbs need to be a lot smarter than they are now. Here's what you need to know about introducing Hue bulbs into your current light setup.

Philips Hue bulbs are one of several different brands of smart light bulbs out there today, but there's a good chance it's the one you have heard the most about. This has a lot to do with how long Philips has been working on these bulbs, but also how many options Philips offers in the Hue line of products for you to light your home with. It's also the platform with the most third party support by far, but we'll save that part of your Hue education for another day. For now, let's go from the moment you decide to pick up a starter kit and work from there.

There are several options available for Philips Hue starter kits, but they all offer essentially the same basic setup. You get a couple of bulbs, though the number and style of bulbs depends on which kit your purchase, and the Hue Bridge. This kit exists in a package that is dramatically larger than any of the others, and is required for you to start using these bulbs. Wherever you decided to purchase your starter kit from, you'll see they sell the bulbs in individual units as well. You can add many more bulbs to your Hue Bridge, and they will work in concert with the bulbs that were included in your kit.

The first step in setting Hue up is to connect the Bridge to your network. There's an ethernet cable included in the box, so all you need to do is connect the Hue Bridge to your router and connect the power cord to the bridge. The three lights on the Hue bridge will glow a bright blue, letting you know it is ready to be used. At this point, it is important to pick a good place for your Bridge to live. There's a mounting socket on the back of the Bridge so it can be stuck out of sight if you want it to, but if your goal is to play around with these smart lights you are going to want to have it easily accessible. Every time you use a new Hue app, you'll need to press the center button on the Bridge to pair the Hue apps to your network. You can try this out for yourself by installing the official Hue app, which is available for both iOS and Android.

Once you are paired to the network, any time you are connected to the WiFi network you will have control over your Hue bulbs. There are some apps that allow for remote control of your bulbs for when you are not connected to your WiFi network, but each app handles that a little differently. As long as you are connected to your WiFi network, you can control an individual bulb or all of your bulbs at once through the Hue app.

Basic control of the Hue app is pretty straight forward, but there's no shortage of interesting things to do with the official app. The homescreen for the app is filled with presets for everything from color scenes to white light presets set to a range of temperatures. Each of these can be adjusted to your preference by long pressing on a scene until it starts to pulse. You'll see an edit symbol appear in the right hand corner of the scene, and from here you can adjust things however you like. You can add or remove bulbs from the scene, set up timers for how long the scene should last or alarms for when the scene should automatically turn on or off, and you can even make the scene location aware so it activates and deactivates when your phone is in range.

Creating a new scene from scratch is very simple. The plus button in the top right corner of the homescreen will allow you to create a custom color configuration based on either a photo or a light recipe. A light recipe is a manual way to set up your ideal shades of white, while the photo will let you base the scene on colors that you have either captured yourself or saved from elsewhere. These can be a lot of fun to set up, and you have the same location, timing, and alarm-based controls for activating the scene you have just created.

Now that you've created or edited scenes, Philips allows you to share them using a My Hue account. This works well for sharing scenes across devices in your house, or for publishing a great scene you have created to the Hue community. From the main menu on the Hue app, you'll see "Log in to my hue" at the top of the list. This will open a browser in order to either create an account or log in to an existing one. All you need to do here is follow the account creation steps, and you'll be presented with the ability to enable Scene Sharing. This will allow your scenes to be synced across all of your devices, and also make them accessible from the Hue website.

There's so many more things that you can do with the Hue platform, but you now hove everything you need to get started and have some fun. From here you can explore with third party Hue apps, integration with complex software like Tasker and hardware like Revolv. If you have any further questions, drop a line in the comments below.