Surprising precisely no one, smart lighting brand Philips Hue finally took the wraps off its widely anticipated home security suite at IFA in Berlin, including three security cameras and a surface-mounted contact sensor for doors and windows, all buttressed by a host of complementary software features.
Slated to arrive this fall, the new Philips Hue security cams arrive with lofty price tags, although they promise stepped-up privacy in addition to tight integration with the robust Hue smart lighting ecosystem.
The cameras include a wired camera, a battery-powered camera, and a spotlight camera, all of which feature 1080p video quality, night vision, and two-way audio chat. All three of the cameras are weatherized for outdoor use (although Hue didn’t provide any IP ratings for the cams).
The standard Hue cameras look more or less like typical security cams, while the floodlight eschews the normal twin lamps, opting instead for a flat rectangular panel above the lens that can glow in white light or color. (Hue didn’t reveal how many lumens the floodlight can emit.)
The Hue cameras will be accessible from a new security center in the Hue app, which will allow users to view video feeds and recordings, arm or disarm the Hue security system, receive motion alerts, or “take action,” including calling 9-1-1 or triggering “light alarms” intended to scare off intruders or alert others that there’s a disturbance in the home.
The cameras come with a variety of mounting options, including a desktop mount, a wall mount, and a spike mount that lets you install a Hue camera in your garden.
Besides live video, the Hue cameras will offer AI-powered and on-device person, pet, vehicle, and package detection, while end-to-end encryption will keep your videos safe from third parties. The Hue app will let you pick who in your household has access to recorded videos or setting for the cameras.
Because AI detection is performed on the camera, end-to-end encryption won’t disable any person- or object-detection functionality–and consequently, end-to-end encryption will be enabled by default.
Philips Hue reps also emphasized that the secret keys employed to authenticate users aren’t stored in the cloud, adding another level of security.
Other features supported by the Hue cameras include activity and “blackout” zones, which let you either designate areas where you want the cams to notify you of movement–or, conversely, areas (such as a neighbor’s home or widows) that you want the camera to ignore.
Another product in Hue’s new Secure line is a contact sensor, which can be mounted on a window, a door, or a cabinet.
Just like other competing sensors, the Hue contact sensor comes in two pieces: a compact component with a peel-and-stick backing, plus a smaller piece with a built-in magnet. The sensor will detect when the magnet field between the two components is broken, triggering a push notification.
Throughout the presentation, Philips Hue executives stressed ways in which the cameras and contact sensor could integrate with your existing Hue setup. For example, when your Hue cameras are disarmed, the cams could act as more traditional motion sensors that turn lights on and off as people leave or enter a room. (When disarmed, the Hue cameras disconnect from Wi-Fi and rely on Zigbee for relaying motion detection data to the Hue Bridge.)
In the same manner, the contact sensor could turn on the lights in a room when the room’s door is opened.
As far as integrations with other smart home ecosystems is concerned, Hue says it is currently “investigating” such integrations with the Alexa and Google Home apps, while Apple HomeKit will have to wait until the Matter standard incorporates security cameras.
Naturally, none of this comes cheap. Available in black and white varieties, the wired Hue Secure camera will retail for $199.99, while the battery-powered model will sell for $249. By way of comparison, the outdoor-capable and battery-powered Nest Cam costs $179, while Ring’s weatherized Stick Up Cam Battery is just $99.99 (and you can currently snap it up for $69.99).
The Hue Secure floodlight camera will cost even more–$349.99, while the contact sensor will cost $39.99 (or $69.99 for a two-pack).
Hue secure camera accessories include the aforementioned camera mount with ground spike ($39.99), the desktop stand ($49.99, or $30 when included with the wired camera), a low-voltage charging cable ($29.99), and an anti-drop cable ($14.99). The cameras have magnetic mounts, so we’re guessing that last item is to prevent a thief from absconding with the camera by simply plucking it off its mount.
And yes, there’s also a paid Philips Hue Secure plan for those who want to save recorded videos to the cloud.
The Hue Secure Basic plan covers one camera for $3.99 a month or $39.99 a year and gives you 30 days of video storage, while the $9.99/month or $99.99/year Hue Secure Plus plan increases the storage to 60 days for all your Hue cameras.
A plan is also required to designate activity zones and for AI-powered motion detection, but not for blackout zones.
Philips Hue’s entry into home security has been rumored for weeks, while its sister smart lighting brand, Signify-owned Wiz, unveiled a security camera with light alarms back in May.
We’ll have reviews of each of the new Philips Hue security cameras and sensors once we test out some samples.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.