Philips opens API for Hue lightbulbs to third party devs

By , Mar 11, 2013

Philips Hue Unboxing Teaser

Good news for current and potential owners of Philips’ app-controlled Hue lightbulbs. The company announced this weekend that there is now an official developer program for the popular LED light set.

This means that we can expect to see more innovative third party applications for the Hue system like Ambify, an iOS app released last week that syncs Philips’ lightbulbs with the beat of your music…

For those who are unfamiliar with Philips’ Hue lightbulbs, they are multicolored, LED bulbs that can be controlled by an iOS device over Wi-Fi. They landed in Apple Stores last fall, and have been quite popular.

Below is our video review of the Hue starter kit, which you can read here.

The new developer program is free, and offers up official Hue APIs, as well as a full software development kit. Why would you offer tools for folks to create lightbulb apps? Because they were already doing it.

Hue system architect George Yianni explains their reasoning to TechCrunch:

“We’re now at a point where there are already about 10 applications that have been shared and built from the unofficial developer community for new applications around Hue,” explained George Yianni, Hue System Architect in an interview. “Now what we want to do as Philips is we actually want to help and grow and encourage this community, and give them tools and proper documentation. Also, we want to give them commitment that this is the API and we’re going to support it and it won’t change overnight.”

Good for Philips for recognizing the interest in third party Hue apps and moving fast to get a dev program in place. Most companies don’t recognize the potential in building out a third party app ecosystem.

And there’s plenty of potential here. The aforementioned Ambify app is a testament to that, and the possibilities are endless. Imagine light-based games, or location-based apps that light up a room upon entry.

But even cool third-party software won’t make the average consumer fork over $200 for a measly 3 Hue lightbulbs. So Philips is going to have to really trim the price tag if it wants the accessory to go mainstream.

Fortunately, the company says it’s expanding the Hue line, with new bulb types coming soon.

What are your thoughts here, would you buy Hue lightbulbs if they were cheaper?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alejandro-Maximo-Marez/100000455773490 Alejandro Maximo Marez

    er mer gerd!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alejandro-Maximo-Marez/100000455773490 Alejandro Maximo Marez

      too rich for my blood though :L

  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    Incredible! Though, too pricey for a light bulb. Does it detect the bulbs ANYWHERE you connect them in your house, or do you have to connect some special accessory between the wall and your lamp?

    • Kaptivator

      Wont post links, but you can go to Phillips site or Google Phillips hue and it will direct you to their web site..Click Getting started and it gives you a lot of info. But it looks as if all is in the box and the “special accessory” may be that brushed nickle plate/housing between the screw threads and the actual bulb.

      • http://twitter.com/steelahlive Steelahlive

        really just look at the picture idb posted it shows the lights and the bridge accessory right there the circular thing. The Metal housing around the lights contain the wifi radio and i believe heat sinks to cool the bulbs, as I’ve moved the lights a few times after they’ve been on and this is the only part that gets warm. It was hot after about 10 seconds so enough to burn but not hot enough to hold quickly and realize it’s hot.

      • Kaptivator

        Yup, that’s what I took from the pic. Probably didn’t convey in my post; after re reading it..lol

    • mdee4

      You connect the “bridge” to your router. You then put the bulbs into lamps like any other bulb. The bridge wirelessly detects the bulbs and your good to go. You control the bulbs with an app, or hue website on your computer. The ambify app is pretty cool too! What other apps are available for the Hue?

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Huh, you can control it from the website or do you mean you download a desktop/laptop application from their website?

      • mdee4

        You control it with an app for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. To control from computer, you just go to the website. They have light themes and stuff available at the website. They have the phone app since you likely always have your phone on you, so a mobile app makes it convenient.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        In that case it’s a definite no no, don’t need my lights to be connecting to the internet. Thought it would simply be using an ad-hoc network for communication with the bulbs, but since it’s controllable from the website, it’s definitely connecting to the internet.

      • mdee4

        Really? I find it cool that it connects to the Internet. Now I can use light switch to turn them on or off, or just use the app if I’m away or want the lights to go along with my music.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Lol, I don’t really see the point of turning the lights on when I’m out of the house, at least not here in Canada. If you’re using the lights like some disco ball, it doesn’t need to be internet connected, it could just be using a local-only network to do that, kinda like Air-play.

      • http://twitter.com/steelahlive Steelahlive

        Read a little more Mr.Electrifyer before continuing on – They do use a local ad-hoc method of connecting to your local network – the internet use is only if you chose too allow it. The device that sits off your router is a bridge connection (basically an adhoc device) you only allow it to connect if you see fit.

        search my name on the you tubes and i have a philips hue review of the system. Mine itself at the time i received was not able to hook up to the internet – i had the firewall blocking their communications port.

        Turning them off when your not at home….um if that was a dumb idea then the entire light timing systems market for vacationers and other’s that simply wish to have their home lights come on at a particular time would be out of business many years ago.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        That solves the problem of internet access, But it’s still too pricey for a light bulb, would only get it if it’s under 80 for this 3 pack.

        BTW, not sure what your point is regarding turning ON the lights when you’re out of the house.

      • http://twitter.com/steelahlive Steelahlive

        you’ve never heard of people putting their house lights on a timer when they’re away for vacation? So the home doesn’t get broken into as people may not NECESSARILY know they’re away. There is an entire market dedicated to such devices – with the internet feature you wouldn’t need another device.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Oh, not here in Canada.

      • http://twitter.com/steelahlive Steelahlive

        Well that’s only if you wish to control them via the website you don’t have to and you can even tell the software on your iOS or Android to not log you into the portal or never go on the portal and register your device it’s that simple. THEY ARE AWESOME – I got them as a christmas present and only wish there were more apps and wish i had more bulbs lol – but don’t knock em if you don’t even own them.