Philips has released an updated Hue platform with a new Hue Bridge, the little smart box that connects up to 50 Hue lights and lamps to the bigger network out there.
Basically Philips Hue is a platform consisting of LED lightbulbs, network connection bridge and other accessories that allow you to change the way lighting works inside your home.
Using Philips Hue you can give each room a different feel through colours that can change based on your mood, activity or even commands issued from mobile apps or other platforms - such as Amazon Alexa for example. Basically Philips says this is painting by light.
The platform also has a simple to use API that allows you control lights or entire rooms and the house from your own applications, if you feel inclined to put some time into creating something.
I received the new Hue Bridge just after their launch in New Zealand. The small bridge can be quickly connected to your network using an ethernet cable and Using Philips Hue's own app, each light can be connected to the bridge. You can then create groups ("Bedroom", "Kitchen" and so on), that will allow you to control individual lights or entire groups.
We have an Amazon Fire TV at home and could easily send voice commands via Amazon Alexa to Philips Hue through web-base IFTTT. This means that without any programming we were able to create voice instructions such as "Alexa lights on" or "Alexa color blue" and so on. The Amazon Fire TV listens to these commands, pushing these to IFTTT that in turn sends then to the Hue Bridge linked to my account. Those were all created via their website following onscreen instructions, with no programming knowledge required.
I was also able to build basic commands using Hue's buit-in API debug application, which acts like its own local webserver. Using the documentation from their website I was also able to quickly create a webpage to demonstrate to my daughter how we can control the lighs - a great introduction to programming for kids.
The whole ecosystem software is completely open source so you are free to create and share, either for free or commercially, any applications you create.
Many third party apps are available and some are very interesting. There are apps that will change the light colours based on the music beat, or change those colours based on type of movie you're watching at that moment. There is one that will take a daily photo of a Japanese village by the sea and create a pallete of colours based on that photo, allowing you to push this to your Hue for use during the day.
In addition to using IFTTT you can also integrate Philips Hue to other platforms including Apple HomeKit and Nest - I haven't tested this but the description for the Nest integration says that it can for example turn lights off when Nest Cam detects you left the room or turn lights to best setting in case there's smoke in a room. Philips Hue can also work with SwannOne.
You can even use it for security, by simulating presence at home when away, by programming on/off timers. You can use these timers to create different moods or make sure lights come up slowly in the morning when you wake
In addition to the Philips Hue Starter Kit you can find other lightbulb models available in the market. The colour lights are more expensive than the pure white ones - and even though the latter are just white you can dim and control white levels through the apps and API.