philipshue

Philips Lighting has launched its web-enabled LED home lighting system called the Philips Hue in India. The device will be available at select Croma and Reliance Digital outlets as well on the online platform Snapdeal. The starter kit is available at Rs 16,995 for 3 bulbs and the ethernet bridge, with subsequent bulbs and other lights priced at Rs 3,995 and above. The company claims that these bulbs, and all other lights can change into 16.8 million colours.

Other than bulbs, the company also offers a lamp (Rs 22,500), a ceiling light (Rs 38,995), a pendant ceiling light (Rs 33,995) and a bloom light (Rs 6,750) etc. To connect the lights, a user simply needs to install the lights as regular lights, except they aren’t to be turned off (manually). Once done, users need to connect the hub or bridge to their routers and wait for the 3 lights to turn on as it connects using the ZigBee Light Link standard. The company offers a free app to communicate with the hub and control these lights via iOS or Android based smartphones. Upto 50 lights can be controlled by a single hub.

Through the app, users can name each light and add them to different ‘scenes’, which automatically apply based on the time of the day or other preset events. However, more impressively, Philips freely provides developers with an API through the RESTful interface and lists SDKs developed for various platforms including Android, OS X, Arduino, Python, C, Haskell, Bash and even IRC! Developers are free to publish their work and even sell it, although Philips warns developers that “everything connected with use of your product is your responsibility”.

MediaNama’s take: While Philips Hue is not likely to fly off the shelves thanks to its pretty hefty pricing, the company has done a great job in showing how IoT is done. By using open standards, the product, in its nearly 3 years of existence in international markets, has spawned hundreds of apps that can work with it. Google Play itself lists over 120 apps that work with the Hue, and mods exist to make the lights match PC games like Minecraft. The Hue Bridge also runs a modified linux firmware which theoretically means developers should be able to hack the bridge itself, or create alternate ones. At the end of the day, the platform’s rich ecosystem means that even though it comes to the country nearly 3 years after its launch, the product is by no means obsolete and the ecosystem can only get better.

Privacy issues of IoT: On the other hand, as the number of IoT devices grow, privacy will increasingly become an issue, as these devices collect, store and/or transmit data from consumers, which could be hacked or used with malicious intent. As Medianama had pointed out earlier, we give our data away online every day – to apps, search engines, social networks, email newsletters and media companies, e-commerce firms. Even if some of them don’t follow guidelines or keep changing their privacy policies this problem will only get worse as IoT devices gain ubiquity.

Image source: Flickr user Sho Hashimoto