It’s happened, the smarts are in. Those shamefully retrograde lightbulbs? Out, gone, vamoose. Well, at least two of them are, filaments and all, in favour of Phillips’ savvy Hue-bulbs.
Why purchase smart lights first, and not some clever thermostat, or connected cam? In short: simplicity, price, and purpose.
Personally, I had a very specific use in mind for my bulbs to be. I’m a long time Sleep Cycle enthusiast, an app which tracks your sleeping patterns throughout the night and aims to wake you at the most propitious moment. I noticed a Hue option nestling in the advanced settings of the app, offering to gently dwindle my bedroom lights as I fall asleep, and to wake me with my very own personal sunrise.
I let this sit in the back of my mind for a while, intrigued but ultimately turned off by the £80 price tag for a starter kit. As summer waned however, and my mornings kept getting darker, I soon found myself staring bleary eyed at the very same starter kit, now down to £50. That was it; the elusive price threshold had been crossed. It was no longer ‘why’, but ‘why-not’. I bought it on the spot.
A few Hue-weeks on, my overall impression is very positive. It does exactly what a smart home product should do; it makes my life easier. A true plug and play solution, I had it up and running in under 5 minutes, fully linked up with my Sleep Cycle app. I love not having to get out of bed to turn off the lights at the end of the day, and waking up to light rather than sound is a much less aggravating experience. Reassuringly, smartphone out of reach, I can just treat it like any other dumb bulb, turning it on and off at the flick of a switch.
In a previous post it was noted that smart things are at their smartest when interacting with each other. Consequently, my modest foray into the smart home has stimulated a much greater interest in the consumer IoT – as I start to wonder what new gadgets could potentially sync in with my budding smart home.
Top of mind is of course voice control, which would truly supplant the switch, and could be achieved using Amazon’s Echo, or Apple’s Watch. These however are currently sitting well outside of the sub £150 sweet spot identified in our Smart Home Consumer Survey, and I certainly can’t see myself splurging just yet. However, as smart home solutions simplify, clarify their convergence, and fall in price, you will find many people (including myself) ready to take a deeper dive into the world of consumer IoT.
Easy to use, affordable and genuinely useful –smart lighting truly is a gateway gadget into the smart home.