In the five years since Philips introduced its Hue range, it's been joined by many other companies offering their own version of its smart lighting. To stay ahead of the competition, the electronics giant has focused on adding platform partners, while introducing new bulbs that appeal to every kind of homeowner. To celebrate its fifth birthday, Philips confirmed today that it will further extend the compatibility of its kit and allow owners to synchronize their lights with movies, video games and music.
The new feature will be called Hue Entertainment and works very similarly to Philips' other entertainment lighting technology: Ambilight. Instead of utilizing just a multicolored strip of LED lights, Entertainment will link the company's extensive range of bulbs with supported TVs, media players and consoles to match exactly what you're seeing on the screen. The company will invite partners and leading entertainment brands to sign up to its early access program in October, ahead of a public launch in December.
The announcement doesn't come as much of a surprise: the company has been trialing what it calls "surround sound for the eyes" for a number of years. In 2014, we were invited to test Syfy's Sync app, which we are able to successfully pair with our Hue lights and add an extra dimension to cult classic Sharknado.
In addition to the launch of Entertainment, Philips will also enhance Hue's Apple HomeKit compatibility in October. Accessories including Hue Tap, Hue Motion Sensor and wireless dimmer switch can be integrated into Apple's smart home platform, allowing users to create additional app scenes inside their home. "When integrated with other smart home devices, you could even make your window blinds shut, thermostat turn to night temperature settings and lock the doors – ensuring the perfect sleep time set-up," Philips says.
In terms of bulbs, there are a number of new additions here too. Buratto and Buckram spotlights have been added to the ambiance range, letting you "energize, concentrate, read or relax" in the bedroom or lounge. Felicity lamps are designed for the beside table, while the white ambiance Struana lamp is made for the bathroom, providing lighting for the application of make-up, shaving or a home spa.
For those getting started, Philips is changing its starter kits. The standard three-bulb kit has been replaced with the choice of either a two-bulb kit or a four-bulb kit. The White-only bulb kits cost $99, while the White Ambiance and White and Color bulb kits retail at $149 and $199 respectively.
Moving forward, Philips says it intends to keep supporting Zigbee's lighting standard, allowing devices made by other manufacturers to interact with Hue kit. That means Zigbee 3.0 will be present in its new lighting products, scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2018.