back to article Philips kills dependence on its Hue hub, pointing to a Bluetooth world

Philips is getting rid of the need for a specialized and proprietary hub in the latest version of its Hue smart bulbs, indicating that the days of conflicting and confusing smart home products may finally be coming to an end. Rather than require the bulbs – which can be programmed to turn on and change their brightness and …

  1. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Why not just use standard Zigbee without their extra proprietary crap.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Why not do without Zigbee, Bluetooth, Hub and the lot? Just switch it on and off at the wall.

      But what we really want to know is whether they've outdone GE in the reset competition.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Why not just use standard Zigbee without their extra proprietary crap."

      I was recently thinking of buying some Zigbee kit along with a "Raspbee" to allow me to automate the lights when away from home after a spate of burglaries in my area, but it's very difficult to work out which items have actually been properly certified to UK/EU safety standards apart from the Ikea Tradfri and Phillips Hue kit, and it sounds like the new Signify kit won't work with a Raspbee.

      Given that the light bulbs (or automated switches) have to be always connected to the live mains to function, I'm somewhat reluctant to use kit that doesn't necessarily meet safety standards, because I don't particularly want my house to burn down. I can't see the use of el-cheapo kit bought from the interwebdoobry going down well with the insurers either...

      1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

        automate the lights when away from home

        A few inexpensive timers will handlethat job nicely, with the added benefit of no compatibility or IT concerns.

        1. Loud Speaker

          Pointless?

          What is the point of having a Cray XMP in the shed if it can't control the colour of my light bulbs?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "after a spate of burglaries in my area"

        Don't you think burglaries are upgrading themselves too, and no longer believe some lights turning on means someone is at home? It will take very little to infer if someone is at home by reading the EM footprint (people at home - lot of wifi traffic, nobody, little traffic)... or just looking at their social profiles.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "after a spate of burglaries in my area"

          (people at home - lot of wifi traffic, nobody, little traffic).

          Then they would be wrong, in my place lots of Wi-Fi traffic may mean the complete opposite.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Empty Home

        Found that a bit of string, record player, mannequins and lamps that have a timer switch work well.

        Kevin

    3. gerdesj Silver badge
      Mushroom

      I do. Home Assistant and a ConBee II does the job nicely. Also works with Ikea Tradfri and lots of others.

      ---> (What nearly happened to the dog when I started playing with Zwave controlled underfloor heating)

  2. macjules Silver badge
    FAIL

    Here's an interesting idea though:

    1) Buy different coloured lightbulb

    2) Switch off light at the wall and wait for bulb to cool

    3) Replace bulb with 1).

    4) Switch on light at wall.

    Going to be a lot quicker than programming the system user to something other than 'admin' and the password to something other than 'password'.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Here's an interesting idea though:

      “Step up to red alert."

      "Sir, are you absolutely sure? It does mean changing the bulb."

    2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: Here's an interesting idea though:

      What we really need are IoT bulbs that change color from green to yellow to red based on their CPU and network activity. Yellow might mean that it's running a rate-limited spam relay, while solid red means that it's DDOSing the shit out of something.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Here's an interesting idea though:

        You jest (maybe), but I have a lamp in my living room that does just that! Green == everything seems fine in my network, Yellow == something isn't quite right (including suspicious activity), but nothing that is obviously critical, Red == something has gone very wrong, or an intruder tripped one of my intrusion detection systems.

  3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    It's been known for a long time that home owners can't be expected to plug in and install a separate hub for every smart home product family they use

    Doesn't seem an unreasonable expectation. I have several special hubs for every single one of my smart home products.

    (number of hubs = several * number of products = 0)

  4. alain williams Silver badge

    I might possibly be interested

    in stuff like this if:

    * I can completely control it from my own server, a R-Pi should be powerful enough. (If others want an off-the-shelf hub that chats to their 'phone via google/... it is up to them - this option should have a large security warning).

    * The R-Pi control software should be open source so that I can trust it. This means that the protocols must be published. This does not mean that I need to be a tech wizard to use it, but knowing that it is open source downloaded from a Debian repo will give a lot of confidence.

    * The gizmos absolutely cannot connect to the Internet; except (at my discretion) via said R-Pi.

    As for coloured lights ... I would need to have had a lot of beer to want it, but I do realise that some would think it pretty even when they are sober.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I might possibly be interested

      "I might possibly be interested"

      It's possible to use Phillips hue (and/or Ikea Tradfri) with a Raspbee rather than the Hue hub, so that there's no ongoing dependence on the manufacturer. I haven't done it because the vendor lock in means that when they stop selling the bulbs and sell a different range (like signify...) you can't replace the bulbs as they break and your home automation stops working.

    2. DCFusor Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: I might possibly be interested - ask and you shall receive.

      While not really cost-effective in onesies, I've developed my own "LAN of things" that I think satisfies your thoughts, and mine, completely. It's fairly well documented on my website, coultersmithing.com, and here's a post from today about a smart power strip I recently built a second copy of (they're handy).

      http://www.coultersmithing.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=59&p=6717#p6717

      No internet access required or allowed, and any machine with a web browser can control it. No ports are forwarded.

      I do use a couple of specialized ESP8266's as well, and those talk to a master Raspberry Pi over wifi using UDP as well. That master pi runs NGINX, MySQL, some nice CGI's that use Gnuplot and perl to plot data from the database on things like the water system, the solar power system, weather in and outside of various buildings on campus and so forth.

      I'm not quite alone, others seem to have done this for other things as well, more often using a raspberry pi as I did in the early days. Now I use a lot of ESPs of both flavors and just one main pi for the database and web server - most of the time. It's a lot easier to re-burn and replace an ESP than a whole pi, not to mention less expensive.

      Of course, no one does this commercially. It seems even the pundits have failed to notice that the real business model of all these IoT morons is to collect your data and do profitable things with it, which deliberately isn't possible with this scheme. It's how they profit, not on the hardware sales.

      1. DCFusor Silver badge

        Re: I might possibly be interested - ask and you shall receive.

        Shhhh, don't tell - my handle here is also my gmail address if you want more details. I do give this all away copyleft, but am not perfect and may have left something out.

    3. gerdesj Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: I might possibly be interested

      You could try this: https://www.home-assistant.io/hassio/ Take some care securing it but all the bits run in their own containers.

      I run HA on Ubuntu VMs and on Lenovo fanless thingies and oldish laptops (come with own UPS!). If I was starting again, I would look very closely at a RPi4. I'll do that anyway because I'm addicted to this stuff. A Conbee II from Dresden Electronic and a Aeotec ZWave stick and your home wifi and perhaps a Bluetooth dongle will give you all the comms you need.

      Be sure to have a project in mind first eg monitor all windows and doors and doorbell otherwise you'll end up kicking the tyres and then find something else to do and have wasted a few hundred quid. Lighting is another good one but be aware that many Zwave light control switches needs a switched neutral as well as live and neutral ie three core and earth. You can however get away with dimmers instead so be careful and do careful research.

      Before long you'll be tweaking your Node-RED flows and stroking your MQTT broker. I can highly recommend RabbitMQ for messaging by the way - its got a great webby front end but Mosquitto is great as well and quick to get up and running. Also consider proxying this lot with something - I've done it all with Apache, nginx and HA Proxy (which can even proxy MQTT with SSL offloading). HassIO I think does that out of the box with nginx. If you can, put your IoT on its own VLAN. I've got a camera that port scans the whole VLAN for some reason but it does not have internet access so can't report home if it is being naughty.

      There are other sensible IoT projects around OpenHAB and Domoticz come to mind.

    4. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: I might possibly be interested

      The only reason I might want it would be make the lights redder in the mornings and evenings instead of white being set at midday in Marrakech when I live in Dundee.

      I run twilight on my phone and redshift on my laptop (thanks to my son in law who command line installed it for me). So since I don’t have a TV screen to worry about that just leaves the lights. Most of the LED and halogen bulbs are the midday in Marrakech white which is not helpful if you need to turn the bedroom light on to get ready for bed.

      But like the poster upthread worried about everything always being live and fire I’m not sold on the idea. 12V DC is not ideal in that scenario especially if an always on transformer if involved. Somehow recharging 12V DC batteries for the job has fire etc implications as well.

      I don’t see why the bulbs can’t have a ROM chip in them which can store the geo location of the property and have the time of year on it. The only problem is how does it know the time of day without being live? do our bulbs need little batteries?

      Something about the tech doesn’t work for me. Perhaps why I have no IoT stuff. I’ve just never seen the killer app.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Dundee

        Who needs Hue bulbs when presumably you're far enough north to see the Northern Lights?

        Clouds? Ah, yes, they put a dampener on a lot of things, both in the singular and the plural.

  5. JohnFen Silver badge

    At least it's an improvement

    I'm not really on board with using Bluetooth for this, but at least it gets rid of any requirement to use the internet and allows for people like me to write our own software to control them. I'm on board with that!

    Any IoT device that requires internet connectivity or the use of a special application is an IoT device that I won't purchase.

    1. Henry Blackman

      Re: At least it's an improvement

      HomeKit does not require an internet connection. Neither does the Hue app which connects locally.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: At least it's an improvement

        That's good to know. I'm not familiar with HomeKit (a quick web search tells me it's an Apple thing, which explains why I don't know about it), but I assumed that you needed to use a special app to operate the Hue bulbs -- and that rules it out even if it doesn't need to talk over the internet.

    2. JimBob42

      Re: At least it's an improvement

      Don't worry, the app you need to use to talk to the lights will still require a live internet connection and a cloud account... possibly several.

  6. Claverhouse Silver badge

    Everyone else will just have to figure out how to connect with those systems

    Or not.

  7. d3vy Silver badge

    This can only be a good thing.

    Something I really dislike is the tendency for literally everything to be under some kind of subscription, or tied to some kind of cloud service.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      A million times this. I don't use hardware or software that requires a subscription or access to a server I don't run. Not only is it problematic financially (it's far too easy to nickel and dime yourself into the poorhouse) but it also means that I can't rely on the software or hardware to keep working through the coming years.

      1. DCFusor Silver badge
        Pint

        My sentiments precisely, though I would add:

        1. they might go out of business and leave you stranded

        2. they might up their rent rates- what if it becomes expensive to use your own home?

        3. you KNOW they're going to be hacked - miscreants do not need to be able to control my power, fuel or water systems...I'm off-grid and these are substantial and can cause damage if misused. I'm sure there will be threats to less conventional homes as well.

        The entire point of IoT from the suppliers point of view seems to be to get into the middle and have a free ride from then out on the skim they get selling your info - even selling it back to you! They don't make much if anything on the hardware. We could hope an enterprising Reg reporter would work out those details and report.

        Have one on me - this can't be said loudly and often enough until this business model is replaced by something better.

  8. HmYiss

    Anyone?

    50 dollar lightbulb.

    Lol.

    1. Thoguht Silver badge

      Re: Anyone?

      In today's money, Edison charged $25 for a dumb white bulb, so Hue isn't actually that expensive in comparison. And anyway, if you have a Hue system then IKEA bulbs will do most of the jobs.

      1. HmYiss

        Re: Anyone?

        That's gotta be the most hilariously warped attempt at justification I've ever heard. Well done.

        I prefer good old tungsten.. Comes with IOL instead of IoT.

      2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Edison charged $25 for a dumb white bulb

        I expect at the time many people said "Screw Edison".

  9. SWCD

    All my bulbs are old now :-(

    Pleasing, as to work remotely, their hub insists on having port 80 open to the world.. No end of larking about found me a way around that.. It's on the to-do list to at least separate it from the main home LAN, and/or find out which IP's their traffic comes from and restrict it. What an arse on.

    Not pleasing, as all my lights that would take one of their bulbs have the now old tech in.. So I guess the hub remains for now!

    I don't get how switching to bluetooth leaves me any better off mind. I don't have anything capable of sending/receiving bluetooth in my house other than my phone. So presumably that'll be fine for when I'm at home, but not when I'm not?

    Hmm, all this IoT shit was supposed to make my life easier :-\

    1. sweh

      Re: All my bulbs are old now :-(

      The hue hub does not need to receive incoming connections from the internet; it reaches out to a google cloud hosted service via https. It does this to receive firmware updates, and to allow for remote control when out of house, and for integration with voice assistants, etc.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: All my bulbs are old now :-(

        The hue hub does not need to receive incoming connections from the internet; it reaches out to a google cloud hosted service via https. It does this to receive firmware updates, and to allow for remote control when out of house, and for integration with voice assistants, etc.

        Not on my system it doesn't, it's on a separate network that never connects to the internet or anything else outside the home.

  10. Ygvb

    "an eco-system battle between Google, Amazon, and Apple"

    Surprising conclusion, considering you've just explained that Phillips is now using standard technologies, making it compatible with any standard Bluetooth device, including but not limited to Google *and* Amazon.

    So it's more like "finally ecosystem independent, except Apple that of course keeps locking customers into a proprietary system, not compatible with anything else".

  11. Nick Pettefar

    Brownouts

    I set up a RPi based IOT light system going through a SonOff and Apple HomeKit. It generally worked fine either through the screen or via voice and I impressed all our visitors. Then we had a brownout, the mains (240V) was wavering between 55 and 95 for hours while the power people were sorting it out. This destroyed the SonOff and I had no control over the light. I was glad that I had just IOT’d one light and not the whole house.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heat

    I still miss the heat side of old bulbs. Over the years, I've replaced the bulbs out in the kitchen and front room. Both had down-lighters.

    I had 14 halogen bulbs in the kitchen, all at 50W. They partially heated the kitchen too, when on. Same as the ones in the front room. Replaced with LED, and granted - the voltage drop is good (and my electricity bill) but noticeably cooler now.

    If only they could get bulbs with tiny heaters in them

  13. x 7

    $15 for a lightbulb?

    Has the world gone mad?

  14. Borg.King

    But I want my mechanical cupboard!!

    I've plans to build my own little cupboard full of little toys with blinken lights.

    Cable Modem, MoCA ethernet, Gigabit switch, Cable TV amp and distribution hub, Networked HD, security system DVR, Philips Hue Hub (probably two), Time Machine HD, and the control unit for my irrigation system.

    And a UPS.

    Philips, please don't deprive me of my dream.

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