Let There Be Light!

Philips Hue Starter Kit Package
Philips Hue Starter Kit Package

You guys know I like technology, right?

Well, what happens when I have this technology craving and I just purchased a condo?

That’s what we’re going to find out.

Luckily, I have some friends at Verizon who were willing to lend me a couple of items to try out to see if I liked them.  Unfortunately for my wallet, I liked them.

Let’s talk first and quickly about the WeMo Insight.  The Insight is basically just a traditional WeMo with the ability to tell you how much you’re spending while using whatever you have plugged into it.  I already own a couple of the original WeMo outlets and they work great.  If you’re energy conscious, you may want to give this one a try.  I currently only have a need for two of these kinds of gadgets, so I’ll hold off on buying another until the need arises.

Control the Hue directly from the home screen by using the widget.
Control the Hue directly from the home screen by using the widget.

Then there was the Philips Hue.  I was lent the starter kit, which included what they call the ‘bridge,’ the piece that connects to your wi-fi, along with three light bulbs.  I had seen the Hue before, but not in action.  The idea is you get these fancy light bulbs and you can put them pretty much anywhere a normal light bulb would go.  The cool part is that they don’t have to stay white.  You can set up various ‘scenes’ to change the colors and intensity and control it all with your phone.

Let me give you an example.  For my purposes, I set these up in the upstairs hallway (two lights) and in the bedroom (one light).  The lights work just like normal with the light switches.  When you turn the switch off and then back on, the lights illuminate in the normal soft white color.  This is great because not everyone who comes into my house has the Hue app installed on their phone.  If you don’t have the app but still need to turn on the light, you can.

On my phone, I created several scenes that I could then deploy with the tap of my home screen.  The Hue app comes with a handful right out of the gate.  I used one of the defaults, ‘Concentrate,’ that turned all of the lights on, illuminating the entire hallway and bedroom in a flood of white light.  This was great.  When I was going to bed at night, I’d turn that one on and turn off the lights downstairs before heading to the bedroom.  Once I got into the bedroom, I used a self-created scene that I called ‘Ready For Bed.’  I had read somewhere that a softer red/orange light before bed can actually help you get to sleep easier.  While I was getting ready for bed, I triggered the ‘Ready For Bed’ scene and the hall lights turned off while the bedroom light shifted to a more nocturnal color.  When I was ready for bed, I hit the ‘All Off’ button and the bedroom light dimmed to darkness with just the light from my cell phone left over.  I really loved this feature.

In my old place, I had my lamp and WeMo switch in the bedroom and could kill the lights that way.  In my new place, I relocated my lamp to the living room and didn’t have an easy way to switch off the lights without having to get my lazy you-know-what out of the bed.  This solved my problem.

I do have other plans for the Hue, as well.  In one of my blog posts for Verizon, I gave tips on how to techify (nope, that’s not a word but I’m gonna run with it) your game nights.  I still host game nights for my friends and I think these lights are going to let me up the game a bit.  With correct and incorrect answers, I’ll be able to shade the lights to green or red with the touch of a button.  It may also be possible to automate this for certain games.  I look forward to trying that out when I get a chance.

Overall, the Hue was a winner!  Now, I need to pick one up for myself since, sadly, my trial period is coming to an end.

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