BERLIN—Gamers, movie buffs, and home theater enthusiasts rejoice. Philips Hue celebrated five years of connected lighting by announcing plans for immersive entertainment. Here at IFA, I saw an exclusive tech demo of how Philips intends to change how we experience content.
Namely, Philips is partnering with content providers to sync their White and Color Ambiance bulbs with movies, TV shows, music, and games. I watched a clip of Disney's Moana and was impressed by how just two lights were able to mimic turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and earthy red tones as the scenes changed and in time with the music. But this feature isn't limited to just movies.
(Extract from Disney Moana "How far I'll go" by Auli'i Cravalho. Image (c) Disney Music.)
Another use case Philips suggested was video games. Not only would gamers be able to sync lights to match fiery explosions, but they could potentially serve as indicators for certain stats and milestones. For example, your light might turn red if you're low on health. This is a feature you can already find on some RGB gaming peripherals, so it's a function that makes sense.
As for music, that is a little less clear. According to Philips, that's because it partially depends on content owners. Theoretically, artists may have the option to hand pick what colors should correspond to certain parts of songs. Or, songs could be churned through an algorithm that automatically adjusts color and brightness depending on the mood and rhythm of the song.
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If you're a fan of Hue lightbulbs, this isn't really out of the blue. Philips has already experimented with syncing their color light bulbs with movies and TV. If you download the SyFy app, your lights will flash red every time someone gets killed while watching Sharknado 3. Similarly, if you watch season one of The Expanse, your lights will change to match the ambience of the current scene. I tried this feature while testing the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 Starter Kit, but found the latency made it more of a novelty.
This is an issue Philips says has been smoothed over—and that seems to be true if the tech demo was any indication. But one potential issue is that this will largely depend on partnerships. That might mean downloading a separate app for each content stream—and no one wants 20 more apps on their phone. Partnerships details are a bit thin at the moment, but Hue owners will get over-the-air updates to their V2 bridges sometime in December.
Rounding out the birthday updates, Philips is also adding HomeKit compatibility across all of its accessories. It's also simplifying its starter kits. Going forward, all starter kits—Hue White ($99.99), Hue White Ambiance ($149.99), and the Hue White and Color Ambiance ($199.99) —will come with four bulbs and a bridge.