What are some use cases for Internet connected lightbulbs like the Philips Hue? Originally appeared on Quora.

by Jonathan Brill:

There are a lot of good reasons to purchase a high end consumer electronics product like the Philips Hue, but replacing everyday lighting is not one of them.

With products like Hue, they’re really interesting when you’re an early adopter and are interested in meeting the technology halfway; that is, that you’re interested in coming up with your own use cases. If you’re just standing in the light bulb aisle at Home Depot and wondering whether to spend $5 on a generic LED bulb or spend $200 on a Hue kit, don’t waste anymore time, just buy the generic.

But if you’re into trying new things, here are some fun things you can try with the Hue:

Hue + pictures. You can feed the Hue app digital pictures and the three Hue bulbs can create a similar lighting environment to the one in the pictures. With a little music this can really change your environment for the better and add a lot of feeling to an otherwise unremarkable space.

Hue + Ifttt. You can set-up Hue bulbs as an alert system. For example, using Ifttt to issue a command to Hue based on your mobile phone signing on to your home Wi-Fi network (or home internet connected garage door opening, or internet enabled doorlock opening, etc) you can have your bulbs all fade on once you’re home. You could have your bulbs go on when your motion detector outside lights up. You could have your bulbs go on when your significant other calls, but not when anyone else calls. You can have them flash once when you get followed on Twitter.

All of those things would have to be programmed in and are kind of a pain in the ass, and who knows if any of them would be too annoying to be sustainable. But maybe one or two of those are really cool and make your life half a percent easier.

Lighting as environmental control. Research has shown that smells, sounds, and colors have a measurable effect on our mood and ability to concentrate, among other things. Buying and using Hue and experimenting with how colors affect your state of mind could have a positive impact on your life. I use music in this way, and really appreciate the dimmer switches in various parts of my home, but Hue would give me new, interesting dimensions with which to affect my environment.

If in 2008 you thought smartphones were just super expensive cell phones with a whole bunch of useless features and horrible battery life, then you could probably wait ten years for the next generation of lighting. But if in 2008 you saw the future, that within a few years you’d mostly have forgotten that the core use case of your smartphone was making voice calls, you might enjoy playing around with lighting as something other than just “providing illumination”. Hue isn’t next generation illumination, just like the iPhone wasn’t ever really supposed to be a phone. It’s a new technology for a new way to think about how to control your environment. It’s still a little raw, but it’s good.

What are some use cases for Internet connected lightbulbs like the Philips Hue?