Philips Hue introduced their line of connected sensors at the International CES show in January. If you weren’t there, I feel the need to tell you that many launched some sort of smart home product or sensor. It was overwhelming and a little concerning but hard to point blame. Significant growth is predicted for the smart home market and everybody wants to play. While Philips is a little late to the sensor game, they are positioned better than most. They already have an IFTTT channel, they Work with Nest, and the Philips Hue is already in many homes.
Hue – Open API – IFTTT – One Hub – Plays with Others
The Hue team got many things right. In order for smart home systems to survive amongst the masses, they must be open to playing with others and Hue already does that. Up until now, Hue has been an add-on to other hubs vs the hub. Their Hue lighting is one of most popular home automation products available and can work with multiple other hubs including SmartThings. The Philips Hue team hopes to change all of that with their new line of sensors and Zigbee 3.0.
All Hue sensors spawn from the Philips Hue hub which connects to power and ethernet. Hue sensors are controlled using Hue apps and as they all use the same application protocol it is easy to seamlessly integrate more devices as time goes on. However, you won’t have to use Hue products with the Hue hub You will be able to add compatible products from other vendors as well.
From a hardware perspective Phillip’s displayed a motion sensor, a door/window sensor, and a smart home temperature humidity sensor. They are also launching a smart plug though they did not have the plug on display at CES. Perhaps the most impressive product was the Hue Tap (available on Amazon). The Tap is not a new product but CES was my first hands-on experience with the Tap. The tap is “battery-less”. Instead it harvest the kinetic energy from your touch. Kind of like an alien life form…kind of. The tap controls your Hue lights from in your house via the push of a button. Each tap has four customizable buttons that you can pre-program to do as you please. The Tap can work with other hubs or with the Hue hub. You can connect up to 25 Tap switches to the Hue hub in addition to to 50 Hue products.
The Philips Hue system is Zigbee 3.0 ready. The idea of Zigbee 3.0 is to take what has been a rather segmented protocol and to create one standard that has better compatibility. During CES I was told that currently over 130 devices are ready for Zigbee 3.0 but that number is sure to grow.
Keep in mind that “ready” does not mean “ready to buy”. ZigBee 3.0 is currently undergoing testing and is expected to be ready by Q4 2015.
Where to Buy
The Hue sensors will launch in Q2 of 2015. If you want to get started with the Hue Hub now simply buy any of the Hue starter kits from Amazon which start at just under $100.