The Philips Hue WiFi-enabled LED lighting system shows a lot of promise towards pushing app-controlled lighting into the mainstream and bodes well for the hobby overall. If you recall the Greenwave LED lighting system we touched on last week and compare it to the Philips Hue, you can see a vast difference and sophistication with the Hue. First off the Hue system comes set with four different white light settings but the fun happens when you delve into the full RGB capabilities to create the exact color spectrum you want in your home.
The system is pretty simple: screw in your LED lights, plug in the gateway to your wireless router and control the lights with an iOS app. Four preset whites and a world of possible colors (16 million to be exact, but who is counting) come from the LEDs inside the bulb. Since a variety of white lighting can accent our daily lives, the Hue system comes preset with four settings to help set the right tone: Energize, Reading, Relax, and Concentrate.
What really is nice about the Philips Hue is the bulbs are not super-sized with a ton of heatsink fins around the bulb. In fact, the Philips Hue bulbs look very similar to the standard bulbs we are used to. Inside you will find royal blue, red/orange and lime LEDs to make the magic happen. Now with the app and a photo you can have a lot of fun. Remember that memorable sunset in Hawaii that you captured on a vacation? With the Philips Hue iOS app (Android app is set for December release), just select the area of the image with the color you want and your lights adjust to that color instantly. The app allows you to slide and control whatever color you want so imagine setting your living room lighting to match the color of your prized acropora, tort, cycloseris, zoas or chalice coral?
Based upon the open source ZigBee LightLink wireless standard, the system will also work with other lights or devices built on this standard. The ZigBee standard is also know to use less energy than traditional WiFi. Each bulb is rated at 8.5 watts and for 15,000 hours of use. So how much will these set you back? The starter system that consists of three bulbs and a hub will cost you $200 and will be available exclusively in the Apple Store. Each additional light bulb will cost $60 each.
So why should this matter for the hobbyist? First of Philips is one of the premier LED lighting manufacturers so the technology will (eventually) trickle down into the aquarium lighting market. Next, the wireless standard will help drive innovation and could create a standard that can be adopted in the industry easier letting manufacturers concentrate on the features of the light without having to develop software as much.
The Philips Hue is an impressive system — costly, yes, but impressive. Look for the cost to drop over the next few years as controllable and wireless LED lighting penetrates the market more. Now if some intrepid aquairum company could buy these in bulk and figure out how to get directional lighting output from this wifi controlled RGB spotlight, we’d really be in coral-growing territory.