Part of the reason the Philips Hue has been so successful is that it’s more than just a connected lighting system capable of some pretty color-changing antics. It’s also a platform with an ever-growing selection of third-party apps, the latest of which is an iOS app that can dynamically sync the light bulbs to on-screen content.
Developed by Amsterdam-based indie developer Erwin Zwart, the Hue Camera app relies on the device’s camera and a “custom-built algorithm” for this purpose. Simply fire up the app, point your iPhone or iPad’s camera toward your TV, and the app will do the rest.
According to the official press release, the software continuously analyzes the on-screen content to identify the preponderant color, which is then passed onto the bulbs. The algorithm is apparently able to pick the “most important color,” as opposed to the average color, and that’s what makes it special.
“Simply taking the average color of all captured pixels will not correctly represent the ambiance,” Zwart explained in the press release. “The average movie scene contains a lot of different colors, so using the average color will likely result in a greyish color.” Zwart added that his app takes into account a number of factors, including hue, saturation, luminance, and occurrence.
The app, which costs $4, is available now from the App Store. That, of course, is small change compared to the $200 you need to fork out for a Philips Hue starter kit.
Why this matters : Hue’s success has helped attract many app developers to the platform, with Philips saying the total number of third-party apps is now past the 200 mark . The company is also said to be developing an app for the Apple Watch. This is important as it is apps like the Hue Camera that truly make the LED lighting system smart.
Hue Camera is not the only app of its kind, by the way. There’s at least one more called Huey, an Android-only app that works in much the same way as the former. To its credit, it is also compatible with LIFX smart lights.
Proving the skeptics wrong
Who would’ve thought that one day $60 light bulbs would be able to carve a niche for themselves? In a recent interview, the Hue’s creator and current Head of Technology for Connected Lighting at Philips, George Yianni, revealed there was no dearth of skeptics within the company itself.
“There’s [sic] certainly some people that thought we were crazy to try and sell a light bulb for $60 when we were struggling in some markets to sell the $2 variety,” Yianni told Diginomica.com. “But we sold our launch quantities in two days, and it’s been going great since then, so I think we won the argument.”