Now that Philips has launched its Entertainment facility for the Hue lights, it’s time to implement and test the features.
What is Entertainment?
It’s a new method for the Bulbs to communicate, meaning that light effects and changes can be synchronised to the split second. This means that the bulbs can react to films, broadcasts, games and music without any lag. The instructions are sent out in bursts and then carried out all at the same time by the bulbs themselves. This, in the purest form, means that the bulbs are truly “smart”.
Setting an Entertainment area
You need to tell Hue where your entertainment area(s) are. An entertainment area is a collection of lights that you want to join together when you’re doing an activity that will use Hue Entertainment – such as playing a video game or watching a film. You set this up through the Hue app. Open the app, go to Settings (the gears icon) then choose Entertainment areas.
Select a room or rooms where the entertainment area is to be set up.
Select the lights that will be used in your entertainment area. Notice that Hue recommends the ones that will work best with this feature. The recommended ones have increased range for brightness and can also show all colours more vividly.
Your selected lights appear on a pretend ‘map’ of your entertainment area. Drag each one into where it is physically positioned in the room. As you drag, the light in your room will flash so you know which one you are moving on the screen. Each one will turn from orange to green once you have moved it.
When you have positioned the lights on the screen to match where they are, press Test area.
The lights will all change colour at the same time, to match the colours showing on the app.
Finally, the app will flash each light separately.
Once set up, the area is stored in the bridge’s memory for use later. At this time the bridge also works out which bulb in the entertainment area should be used as the first point of contact to send out messages to the other bulbs in the area. You can change this in the app but the automatic decision seems to work well.
Testing the Entertainment area
At the time of writing this entry, there is only one Entertainment partner available on the app – this is Razer hardware (a gaming hardware company). However, there’s another way to test your new Entertainment area.
A reddit user called CrustaceanSoup has developed a Windows app called Huestacean which can be downloaded and run easily. The app samples what is displayed on the screen and then converts this to colours in the entertainment area. For example, you can watch a film or a YouTube video on your computer and your Hue lights sync perfectly to the action on screen.
Thanks to people like CrustaceanSoup we can see the potential for this amazing immersive experience. The level of synchronicity takes my breath away.
I cannot wait to see how other partners join in with this. More than merely matching what is on screen, I can see streamed films coming with encoded Hue light programs and live broadcasts sending their stage lighting to Hue to recreate in your living room.
For now, I would be really happy if Hue extended their already strong partnership with Apple and brought a similar screen-mirroring function to the Apple TV, this would mean that practically everything we watch could be extended outwards into the whole living room.