As I continue playing around with Philips Hue, I want to start looking into the features it offers beyond basic control of lighting. In this post, I take a look at the Philips Hue 'Routines' feature, and explore what it can do.
One of the powerful features of any smart home system, should be the ability to deliver automation. We're used to operating things like lighting in an entirely manual way. It's always down to you to manually switch on, or off each light in your house as you need to. With smart lighting, much of this can become automatic.
The most basic element of an automated smart home system is scheduling. If you've got smart home technology (like lighting), then setting up times for lights to turn on or off would be the most basic feature you'd expect. However for a system to be truly smart, it needs to go much further than this, and know exactly when it's needed based on more than just time of day.
In Philips Hue, automation is achieved through 'Routines'. Hue offers four inside the app;
Home & Away: Here, you can set Hue to turn lights on, or off as you arrive or leave home. The system uses your smartphone to determine your location. You choose rooms for the routines to apply to, and the scene to activate (in the case of turning lights on). It's also possible to tell Hue not to turn the lights on if the sun has not yet set.
Wake Up: This routine slowly turns the lights on. Fading them in, reaching full brightness at your specified time. You need to choose the room, a time, and the days when this routine runs. No need to set a scene, the Hue app picks the best one.
Go to Sleep: Similar to Wake up, but in reverse. The Hue app gently fades the lights out, helping you to relax and get ready to sleep. Again, set a time, day and room.
My Routines This is the basic scheduling feature. You setup rooms and scenes, and the times and days to activate them. 'Off' is a selectable scene to allow you to turn the lights off. at set times too.
I need to play around with these routines more. I want to understand just how smart the system is. For example, both my partner and I have the app installed on our phones. If I go out, and he does not, what happens? Will the lights still turn off or is it smart enough to know one person is still home?
I also haven't really had the chance yet to properly play with the 'Wake up' and 'Go to Sleep' routines - we haven't installed Philips Hue in the bedroom yet.
The usefulness of the 'My Routines' section remains a little undefined for me. At the very least it can be used to have the lights scheduled to come on whilst you are -for example- away on holiday. This is certainly a bit more comprehensive than a timer switch.
In general, these routines look to be fairly useful, and certainly the sort of thing I'd expect to see in a smart lighting system, delivering more than just control, but automation as well.