back to article Philips pushes out SDK for multicolour Zigbee LED lights

Software engineers can finally switch lights on and off, and change their colour, without resorting to hardware controls - thanks to the Philips Hue SDK and its RESTful interface. The Philips Hue is an LED light bulb with a Zigbee interface which connects to a supplied bridge and thus can be addressed though the home's IP …


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  1. sabba

    Christ, what next...

    ...programmable toilets? £50 quid a time for a bulb? I think I'd rather have a more expensive control network and lower cost bulbs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Christ, what next...

      I realise this needs to be tagged with a "[citation-needed]" tag, but I think that has been done in one form or another.

      I hear in Japan for instance, they had loos there a few years ago that played MP3s and offered various whizbang features, that implies a certain level of programmability.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Christ, what next...

        If it is all the same to you could I have a toilet without any sign of Whiz and / or bang? Even the thought makes me nervous.

        1. Professor Clifton Shallot

          Re: Christ, what next...

          Bound to get the occasional bang on the thunderbox, even when you're only having a whizz.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Christ, what next...

          > If it is all the same to you could I have a toilet without any sign of Whiz and / or bang?

          Agreed, I'll stick to loos that merely flush (or even just a seat over a very deep hole) and lights that are turned on and off with a simple mechanical switch thanks.

          I was just pointing out there was a high probability that such things existed.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Christ, what next...

            I prefer lights that work. Hostile arachnids under the rim are somwhat hazardous.

            Cue: Slim Dusty soundtrack....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Christ, what next...

      Their normal LED bulbs are costly. But you know why? because they are brilliant. They are the only "low power" bulb that is anywhere near as good as an incandescent bulb.

      Very bright, warm colour (most people want warm in the EU), dimmable.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Only "sort-of" dimmable

        Better than any of the other 2-wire "dimmable" LED lamps I know of though, most of which only go down to 20%

        I would still like the last 11% though.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    stunning technological breakthrough

    This is what I've always needed in my life, but somehow couldn't find identify! Now it's HERE folks. Isn't technology fantastic.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Good Technology

      Red Guitars

      circa 1984

  3. censored

    I have them...

    and I love them.

    It's remarkable how you can change the whole atmosphere and feel or a room so easily. And yes, that helps me to relax, or to feel warmer, or to get more comfortable.

    Oh, and if you can use a smartphone app to control your home lighting, I'm sure you can buy a bayonet to screw adapter for 50p

    1. Don Jefe
      Thumb Up

      Re: I have them...

      We have them in our dining room and living room as well and they are pretty great.

  4. AndrueC Silver badge

    They might be controlling their hue but who will control their cry?

  5. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    I bought them the USA, because they're a lot cheaper there. Got them back home to Holland, screwed them in, turned on the bridge, turned on the light, and heard only three despairing little peeps followed by absolutely nothing. Ever again.

    Checked the wiring, checked the bridge, checked the light sockets (several times) with other lights, checked the app, then finally as a last resort checked the specs to see if I was doing anything wrong.

    Voltage range 100-130 volts

    Moral of the story; sometimes buying stuff in the States can work out incredibly expensive if you don't read the specs first (and apply a little common sense).

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: I bought them

      Seriously? You bought mains electrical fixtures in the USA and didn't realize they'd be engineered for US line voltage?

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: I bought them

        Normally I'd agree with you - have 10 smug points. Couple of things which make it a little less simple than you point out though;

        1) Most consumer electronics devices these days operate on 100-250vac so there are no compatibility issues. In fact the Hue hub worked fine over here, it's just the lightbulbs that didn't.

        2) Where there's likely to be voltage incompatibility, there are typically physical barriers to stop you doing dumb things. Different electrical sockets, different connectors etc. The Philips Hue bulbs are E27 fittings, which fit just fine; so it's a pretty easy mistake to make.

        In fact, if it weren't for the fact that it's a pretty niche problem (how many people transport lightbulbs back and forth between countries?) then I would suggest they do something about the ES lightbulb standard. Make the US screw fittings 5mm shorter than the European ones so that European ones work in the US (albeit half-brightness), but the US ones won't blow up when screwed into a European socket? Easy and effective.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: I bought them

        Virtually all LED lamps are 100-250V. The surprise is that Philips have regionalised them.

  6. Dr_N Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I like what Philips bring to the table...

    Next up: Hooking them up to Ambilight TV....?

    1. Mips

      Re: I like what Philips bring to the table...

      Also like Philips: they are a lighting manufacturer with history in electronics and vice verse: a very rare beast indeed. BUT they have no idea what cost the market place will bear The LED replacement for fluorescent luminaires is approximately 4 time the price but whilst you can dim them and switch them on and off all day with impunity do they save the additional cost? So wait a few years and things might be different; there is the equivalent of Moor's Law operating in LED lighting.

      Zigbee is very expensive and a big overkill in the domestic market. OK it might work fine but who is going to buy it? Do not look for it to appear in your local supermarket. Lower cost technology will appear soon.

      You need to be careful reading Philips technical performance claims. Whilst items do "what it says on the tin" this might not be what you want and they conceal the downside of some devices. Some customers will be disappointed. One example is the replacement for dichroic lamps. The equivalent size produces the same beam intensity but only half the lumen output. So if you are replacing lamps in a room using downlighters you will be out of luck. Philips are not alone in this but as they lead the field all the rest work on a "me too" basis. Another matter is that some of the Philips high power LED have cooling fans; if you have several in a room, they all run a slightly different speed, it sounds like a swarm of mutant bees. They are only suited for shop front lighting but this is not the way they are sold.

      Lastly who wants colour change lamps at home anyway? They are naff and best reserved for your local curry shop.

  7. Natalie Gritpants

    Mood sensors and privacy concerns

    Do you really want your neighbours to know when your bitch is in heat?

  8. Ross 12

    Or a cheaper Raspberry Pi + LedBorg alternative </plug class="shameless">

    1. Nick Pettefar

      Re: Or a cheaper Raspberry Pi + LedBorg alternative

      Too dim for a room. I have this and operate it via a bash script quite well enough without having to learn Yet Another Language.

  9. M Gale

    Disco lights are expensive anyway.

    A RasPi and a DMX controller could do awesome things to a nightclub ceiling.

  10. LinkOfHyrule

    Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light...

    ...'cus it's been programmed to switch itself on according to your work calendar!

    1. Fatman Silver badge

      Re: Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light...

      Didn't you know, Foxy Roxy always has her red light on!!!!

  11. James Boag
    Thumb Up

    Just the ticket

    Now the Raspberry Pi Door bell is in production mode (tweets and all) it's time to play with the light !

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cheaper alternative

    Not quite as fancy but I use the milight bulbs and a dev has already released info on how to code up your own control, since they don't have an official SDK -

  13. frank ly


    "Not more than 10 times a second though, that being a rough limitation of the technology, ..."

    I'm sure that the limitations of human vision would mean that you couldn't appreciate anything changing that fast (for ambient lighting and effects purposes).

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Limitation

      You'd be wrong though.

      It's all about the fade, and a ten-step 1 second fade is very visible.

      You need at least 20Hz update rate for fades in small tungsten lamps, for LED you'd want 30-40Hz.

      10Hz only works for large tungsten, or if the response is artificially slowed to allow internal smoothing to work.

  14. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Just been in France... the builder's merchants stock 15 Euro colour-changing LEDs, with a credit-card sized IR remote. And in a French Lidl there was a 'TV simulator', an array of LEDs that gives the impression of someone watching tv, if viewed through some curtains by a would-be thief.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Wow, a TV simulator?

      Just what I always wanted. Now I won't have to actually watch TV.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sounds like you had a great continental holiday roaming around LIDL and Leroy Merlin....

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Less of a holiday and more doing some work on a house. Still, the food was good, simple and plentiful... have been on a mostly soup diet since returning to Blighty!

    3. Pookietoo

      re: in a French Lidl there was a 'TV simulator'

      Available in UK Lidl a while ago, might still be some in the remainder bin.

  15. Select * From Handle

    Suspiciously well-designed fan site

    I feel like Sheldon off TBBT, was that sarcasm? because that website is wordpress with a slight variant of the default theme.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £50 a bulb! no thanks. Now, let me guess, the control bit can be separated from the bottom in the event that the actual bulb 'goes' so you're not faced with another £50 charge. No?, no, didn't think so really...

  17. ecofeco Silver badge

    Jsut Because You Can Do Something...

    ...doesn't mean you should.

    Sounds like another case of an answer to a question nobody was asking in order to justify a job for somebody else.

    Reminds me of most devs. Always looking for the hardest way to do something just because they can.

  18. Benjamin 4

    Are you sure sir? It does mean changing the bulb!

    Damn you Philips. You've just knackered one of my favorite comedy sketches.

  19. Zibob

    Lifx bulb

    this sounds suspiciously similar to the LIFX bulb. Older than the Philips bulb and better set up and as far as I remember cheaper. They can mesh together, change colour on a whim and have full android/iOS support with in roads to custom apps. Sounds like Philips are just taking the ideas of a smaller company and jumping on their fun.

  20. david 12 Bronze badge

    How many devs does it take to change a light bulb?

    All together now:

    ...It worked ok on my computer

  21. Radiodoc
    Black Helicopters

    Chinese made LED lamps are MUCH more economical on the wallet

    Huh, my latest purchase - down Apliu Street in Sham Shui Po, HK - cost me HK$50 = less than GBP 5 a time for 5 Brilliantly WHITE LEDs in a mini screw-in E14 type.

    There are "Incandescent lamp color" ones too - BUT I much prefer ones that give me brilliant white illumination & all the while consuming 5 Watts of power in total!

    She, who must be obeyed - has not demanded that I remove these bright 3 Watt, an earlier incarnation, from her bedside lamp..... and they are cheaper by far than the compact fluorescents that are in the other rooms where bright lighting is a must!

    Yes, I love living in the S mall A rea of R epression, HKSAR, where I can speak my mind against the Commie Running Dogs / Locusts who have, until recently, plundered our shops for baby formula - 'cos they can't trust their government to make sure that food is not adulterated etc!

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