Although it pains me to do a post on lighting, something that I along with hundreds and of thousands of people and businesses across the East Coast are without right now in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, this is pretty big news for all you smart LED followers out there:

Following in the footsteps of the Insteon LED, a Google/Light Science collaboration that’s yet to materialize, and Kickstarter-funded projects such as the LIFX and Visualight, Dutch electronics behemoth Philips has released its own energy-efficient, WiFi-enabled LED bulb. Most appropriately, they've dubbed it Hue.

Calling Hue the “the world’s smartest web-enabled LED home lighting system,” Philips is selling the iPhone-, iPad-, or Android-controlled LEDs exclusively at Apple stores with single bulbs retailing for $59.95. Starter packs that include three bulbs, a LAN cable, and the Hue bridge that plugs into WiFi routers will set you back $199.95. From what I understand, the bridge, which is required to operate the Hue system, is not sold a la carte. The bulbs themselves are 50-watt equivalents (they use 80 percent less juice than standard bulbs) with an output of 600 lumens. The system operates through an open ZigBee Light Link standard and up to 50 individual bulbs can be connected to the bridge.

As you can see from the above photo released by Philips, an “upgradable and future-proof” network of Hue bulbs can transform your home into a veritable discotheque (or the set of a Dario Argento movie) if you aren’t feelin’ that boring old white light or want to let potential intruders that you're really home while traveling. And in addition to allowing for vibrant, customized colors (apparently more than 16 million colors are possible including an “incandescent white”) and remotely turning the bulbs on and off via smartphone or tablet, the Hue system is capable of a whole lot more.

The official laundry list of features via Philips:

• Save your favorite light scenes for each room or time of day and recall them in an instant • Use any photo on your phone as a color palette to paint your room with light and bring your memories back to life
• Tune white light from warm candlelight to vibrant, cool white light
• Create ambience or complement your decor with the colors of the rainbow
• Control and monitor your lights remotely when not at home for security and peace of mind
• Set timers to help manage your daily routine
• Let light wake you up refreshed or help your loved ones fall asleep
The Hue app also comes with a feature called LightRecipes, which is described as “four pre-programmed lighting settings based on Philips’ research around the biological effects that lighting has on the body. These scenarios adjust bulbs to the optimum shade and brightness of white light to help you relax, read, concentrate or energize.”

Yep, $200 for a starter kit and three bulbs is steep. However, I suppose that’s what it costs for the luxury of being able to schedule your master bathroom to turn pink at 7 a.m. on the dot for the next 15 or so years. Lots more at

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

With Philips latest LED release, color and convenience comes at a cost
Philips, a company known for its L Prize-winning, checking account-busting incandescent replacements, enters the web-enabled LED market with a spendy, smart and