Controlling Philips Hue with Samsung Smartthings

Here, I explore how you add your Philips Hue system into Samsung Smartthings.  I look at the setup process, how to control your lights, and how to create Smartthings 'Scenes'.  Read on for more details of the overall process and how well the system works.

I must admit, I was a sceptic.  Did I really need another hub to control a bunch of devices that are already working pretty well by themselves?  What does 'integration' between different smart devices really give me anyway?  I'm starting to come around though.  You'll see what I'm talking about below, but for now let's focus on how this works.

After you've setup your Smartthings Hub, the first step is to 'discover' your Philips Hue Bridge from within the Samsung Smarthings app.  Doing so is fairly easy, just head to the devices screen, and tap 'add devices'.  The automatic process that then begins to find new devices, didn't seem to locate my Hue system, but that's OK.  You can expand the 'add devices manually' section, scroll down to 'Light Bulbs', and then choose 'Philips Hue'.

You're then given instructions for setting up Philips Hue inside Smartthings.  This includes disconnecting and reconnecting the network cable from your Hue Bridge, and pressing the discovery button on the front.

Once done, the Smartthings app then begins populating with all the Hue devices it can now see, including the bridge itself, and all the lights you have.  Tapping done returns you to the devices screen.

The first thing you'll note, is that whilst all your devices are discovered, your rooms and scenes are not.  So, you'll need to set these up again inside Smartthings to get these working, and of course, they won't be in-sync with room and scene changes you make inside Hue.  That's a bit dissapointing, but not too surprising.  The general approach for how Smartthings wants to work in your home is that it should be the main controller for everything (although how realistic that is is debatable).

Setting up rooms is thankfully fairly easy.  In the top right a drop down gives easy access to a 'New Room' shortcut, where you can name your room, and select checkboxes against devices you'd like to allocate to your new room.

Controlling lights is easy.  Each light or bulb gets its own tile, with a toggle for easily turning the light on or off.  Tapping on the tile itself will reveal more control.  Depending on the type of bulb, you'll be able to control brightness (the bare minimum for all hue lights), the colour temperature, and the colour.

None of this is spectacularly exciting if you've already gotten used to Philips Hue - this stuff is pretty standard.  What is interesting and useful, are scenes.

We've already established your existing scenes don't get discovered, but scenes in Smartthings are different from scenes in Hue.  In Hue, they're essentially a light preset, with colour and brightness levels all set for easy access.  In Smartthings, they're a series of actions that can be executed against different devices in one shortcut or preset.

So, you can create a scene that will turn on a light, and then set it to a particular colour yes.  However the scene might also include actions to start playing music and set the temperature in that room.  So, we can go beyond just Hue, and look to incorporate other devices in our scenes.

This is where I'm starting to come around to the concept of using a central hub for control of my Smart Home devices.  As we accumulate more smart devices in our home, controlling them individually will still work just fine, but being able to control them together will be easier.  This is before we even get to other Smartthings capabilities like automation, and extensibility.  I'll cover those features off separately.

For now though, I'm starting to see the possibilities, and I'll keep you updated as I learn more and explore the various options this opens up!