Magic of Philips Hue API: Smart Bulbs Integrate with Control4 Home Automation
Thanks to Philips Hue API, Extra Vegetables builds driver to incorporate low-cost RGB lighting control into home automation scenes via Control4.
Philips Hue ZigBee-enabled smart bulbs have caused quite a frenzy in DIY lighting control, but no one in the home automation business really cared about these standalone screw-in LEDs with RGB color controls … until now.
Thanks to a new driver from Extra Vegetables, Philips Hue can be integrated into a Control4 home automation ecosystem that integrates not only the RGB lighting controls, but also motorized shades, home theater projectors, music and other systems to create interesting scenes.
Philips released an API for Hue a couple of months ago, opening the doors for developers like EV – a feisty home automation software developer specializing in Control4 – to make better use of the otherwise limited Hue bulbs.
We chided Philips Hue and the whole class of standalone smart bulbs in March (“13 Smart LED Bulbs: The Future of Lighting Control?”). Back then we wondered if they were useful for anything but a few small or gimmicky applications.
“We weren’t sure either until we used it ourselves,” EV principal Jane Scotland tells CE Pro. “It looks like a bit of a gimmick at first glance but it is a surprisingly useful product.”
Colored lighting is effective in areas such as cinemas, where it can add an interesting dimension to the environment. For example, a “watch movie” scene could start the projector, drop the motorized shades, turn off the regular lights and set the colored bulbs to a very dim blue.
“However, up to now, the only way to add color-changing lighting was by implementing RGB control via DMX or a sophisticated lighting control system,” says Scotland. “Both options are quite expensive for smaller residential applications compared to a few $50 RGB bulbs.”
As we noted back in March, Hue and its brethren are controlled via an iOS or other app, but they must be powered on and off manually. When the power is turned back on, the lamps revert to white.
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“By using Control4,” Scotland explains, “a simple Control4 keypad can be used to turn the scene on and off and automatically set the scene to the correct color.”
And that’s just for starters.
“Even better, once you are using Control4, you can then do things like making the color dependent on the time of day,” Scotland says. “So turning on the scene in the morning would set a zingy yellow-toned wake-up color, and pressing the same button after dark would set a more relaxing blue-toned scene.”
Within Control4, the Hue lamps can be integrated with standard (automated) lighting, not to mention all of the other products integrated into a Control4 system.
Kids might enjoy, for example, a “party” scene that gets the tunes cranking, disco ball spinning, and colored lights twinkling. And, later, the grumpy old parents can hit a button that ends the festivities and brightens the room to white.
While RGB lighting control seems to be the most compelling reason to add smart bulbs – rather than smart switches or processors – into a home automation system, these bulbs can make sense even for their white-light applications.
“Interestingly, since we’ve launched the driver, dealers have also been talking to us about using them purely for white light as an inexpensive, easy way to add lighting control to a minor room such as a guest or kid’s bedroom,” Scotland explains.
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]
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