This week, Philips introduced an intelligent LED light bulb that could transform the lighting and electronics industry.  The company calls its smart bulbs the Hue 1.1 which features several hi-tech features.

The geofencing feature enables users to program Hue to change colors, as well as, turn on or off when the user arrives.  As stated on the Philips website, Hue users “don’t ever worry if [they’ve] switched [their] lights off or not.  Just walk out the front door and they’ll switch themselves off”.

There’s also an alarm function.  The Hue can act as a light-based alarm, gradually turning itself on when it’s time for a person – or his kids – to wake up.  The innovation means users now have the option not to be jarred by the blaring of sound-based, traditional alarms.  With the timer feature, the Hue LED light bulb can turn the lights off, flash, or change color after a set amount of time.


Here are additional IFTTT features:

  • Change your light’s color to let you know when it’s raining outside
  • Blink your lights when your favorite sports team starts a new game
  • Randomly change your light’s color with a text message

Philips opened up the API to allow developers to write their own apps for the colorful, smart bulb.  The company also partnered with Apple to gain distribution among early adopters.

What are some future applications for smart LED lighting?  The possibilities seem endless.  A child who has gotten in trouble in school may find the house’s lights turn red when daddy is coming home.  A user’s front porch may turn blue when a Facebook friend is about to arrive.  Or the kitchen may turn yellow when the chicken in the oven is cooked to perfection.  The smart LED bulb can also turn red during a romantic dinner on Valentine’s.  Or turn green when it’s paycheck day at work.

The Hue can also be programmed for safety and security purposes.  When someone is moving around the house at 2 a.m., the Hue can provide bright lighting inside a home to fend off burglars or to help ensure that elderly residents don’t hurt themselves.

The LED light bulb starter kit is available at Apple stores for $200 or $60 per Hue bulb.  That’s a pretty steep price to pay for someone wanting to install a dozen of these, say, during Christmas or Valentine’s.  Philips is banking on Hue to become the next cool “must have” product for techies.

The company should reap high profit margins at $60 per bulb.  The price of LED light bulbs is projected to drop by half by the year 2020, according to BulbAmerica.  “The overall costs of the central LED package will fall by more than 70 percent to $2.14 in the next decade” because of a shift in technological innovation towards areas such as thermal management, drivers, and optics.

Philips wants to transform what has previously been a commoditized product into an innovative technology that commands a premium because of its branding.  For years, General Electric has reaped the benefits of advanced lighting through eco-friendly bulbs that, while more expensive, lasts longer than traditional bulbs.  But executives at Philips believe there is a market beyond just environmentally-friendly, longer-lasting bulbs.

Philips announced that it will sell the smart bulb at and other retail partners in the United States and Europe.