Philips’ app that syncs Hue lights with computer displays is surprisingly good

Today, Philips is making its Hue Sync app available to anyone looking to synchronize their Hue lights with whatever’s running on their Windows or Mac computer. Hue Sync detects whatever colors it sees on the screen and then projects a matching aura onto the walls around it. It works with anything, really, even music and web browsing, but the experience is especially immersive when gaming or watching video at full screen. It works surprisingly well, too. I know because I’ve been testing a pre-release version of the app on an iMac for the past few days.

Let me guess: like me, you spend a lot of time behind your home computer. Maybe it’s also the biggest screen in your house, surrounded by a rumbling speaker configuration that’s perfectly tuned to blast your face with audio while gaming, or watching videos and film. If so, then Hue Sync could be for you.

My setup is super simple. I’ve got a 27-inch iMac that sits about a foot from a white wall, with an old “Pixar lamp” behind it fitted with a multi-colored Hue bulb. I’ve always been a fan of Microsoft’s IllumiRoom concept, and those Philips Ambilight TVs that bleed colors right off the display and onto the wall behind it. Hue Sync creates an approximation of that glorious effect, but with a non-trivial impact on CPU.


The Hue Sync app set to synchronize video.
Image: Philips

The app requires a Hue bridge on your network, and you need to define an “Entertainment area” in the much improved Hue 3.0 app that went live a few days ago. My entertainment area is comprised of a single bulb behind my all-in-one, but you can go nuts with light strips and other Hue fixtures to create as big and bright of a light show as you want.

With a YouTube video playing at full screen and the Hue Sync app maxed-out at “Intense” brightness and “CPU – high performance,” the HueSync process usually reported CPU usage at around 24 to 26 percent, occasionally spiking to over 40 percent, or dropping into the low teens. But the synchronization was good. There was a slight lag between the color changes on the screen and the Hue bulb, but it didn’t detract from the experience, with the Hue smoothly changing colors even during fast-moving action scenes. It was particularly adept at identifying just the right colors to send to my lone Hue bulb even as the on-screen image presented a muddle of colors as you’d get with any TV show, game or film.

In a multi-light setup, Hue Sync will map the colors across regions of the display and then send them to the appropriate Hue device. You can see this in the image at the top of the article with red light flooding the wall on the left, and blue to the right, in accordance to the scene on the display.

The folowing GIF was captured while streaming this YouTube video to show how accurately and quickly my setup responded to uniform color changes on the iMac’s display:


Synchronizing with a YouTube video. Hue Sync set to high cpu mode and intense brightness.
GIF: Thomas Ricker / The Verge

Reducing the brightness from “Intense” to “Subtle” in the app had little impact on the CPU usage. In my testing, the CPU set to “low performance” mode hovered around 19 to 20 percent but still spiked into the 30s. It also resulted in a sometimes uncomfortable delay in the light synchronization, and sometimes appeared jerky on the wall behind the display. For these reasons, I left the app in high performance mode, which is fine for films, but could cause problems for gamers.

Bottom line: Hue Sync is a fun little app that’s free to use, and, for me, adds an extra layer of immersion to the experience of watching videos or film. So, if you already have some Hue bulbs laying around, then you really should give it a try.


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Table of Contents

  1. Definitions used in this Policy
  2. Data protection principles we follow
  3. What rights do you have regarding your Personal Data
  4. What Personal Data we gather about you
  5. How we use your Personal Data
  6. Who else has access to your Personal Data
  7. How we secure your data
  8. Information about cookies
  9. Contact information

1.Definitions

Personal Data – any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person.
Processing – any operation or set of operations which is performed on Personal Data or on sets of Personal Data.
Data subject – a natural person whose Personal Data is being Processed.
Child – a natural person under 16 years of age.
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2.Data Protection Principles

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3.Data Subject’s rights

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4.Data we gather

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Information from our partners
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Publicly available information
We might gather information about you that is publicly available.

5.How we use your Personal Data

We use your Personal Data in order to:

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We use your Personal Data on legitimate grounds and/or with your Consent.

On the grounds of entering into a contract or fulfilling contractual obligations, we Process your Personal Data for the following purposes:

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On the ground of legitimate interest, we Process your Personal Data for the following purposes:

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As long as you have not informed us otherwise, we consider offering you products/services that are similar or same to your purchasing history/browsing behaviour to be our legitimate interest.

With your consent we Process your Personal Data for the following purposes:

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We Process your Personal Data in order to fulfil obligation rising from law and/or use your Personal Data for options provided by law. We reserve the right to anonymise Personal Data gathered and to use any such data. We will use data outside the scope of this Policy only when it is anonymised. We save your billing information and other information gathered about you for as long as needed for accounting purposes or other obligations deriving from law, but not longer than 1 year.

We might process your Personal Data for additional purposes that are not mentioned here, but are compatible with the original purpose for which the data was gathered. To do this, we will ensure that:

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We will inform you of any further Processing and purposes.

6.Who else can access your Personal Data

We do not share your Personal Data with strangers. Personal Data about you is in some cases provided to our trusted partners in order to either make providing the service to you possible or to enhance your customer experience. We share your data with:

Our processing partners:

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Our business partners:

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Connected third parties:

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We only work with Processing partners who are able to ensure adequate level of protection to your Personal Data. We disclose your Personal Data to third parties or public officials when we are legally obliged to do so. We might disclose your Personal Data to third parties if you have consented to it or if there are other legal grounds for it.

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Even though we try our best we can not guarantee the security of information. However, we promise to notify suitable authorities of data breaches. We will also notify you if there is a threat to your rights or interests. We will do everything we reasonably can to prevent security breaches and to assist authorities should any breaches occur.

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Children

We do not intend to collect or knowingly collect information from children. We do not target children with our services.

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We use cookies and/or similar technologies to analyse customer behaviour, administer the website, track users’ movements, and to collect information about users. This is done in order to personalise and enhance your experience with us.

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We use cookies for the following purposes:

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Last Update: May 25, 2018