EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was updated on March 29th to include more information on the Hue Tap's potential integration into IFTTT.
If you're living in a home with smart lighting, then you know that it isn't always convenient to fish your phone out of your pocket in order to dim your desk lamp. Fortunately for you, Philips thinks it has a solution: the Philips Hue Tap. With four programmable buttons capable of triggering your favorite Philips Hue lighting setups, the $59.95 Hue Tap promises to extend the Hue app into the physical world.
On top of that, Philips claims that the Hue Tap will run purely off of the energy generated by each tap of your finger. You won't plug the Hue Tap in, and there aren't any batteries to worry about. It draws zero watts. Philips is calling it the world's first kinetic-powered, Web-enabled light switch.
Philips announced the Hue Tap this morning, along with the new Hue Lux LED, a more basic and affordable Hue bulb that comes with all of the usual connected smarts but none of the color-changing capabilities. Like the original Hue bulbs and "Friends of Hue" lighting accessories, the Hue Tap and Hue Lux LEDs will require the Hue Bridge in order to function.
Philips likely hopes these new additions to the Hue family will make for a more robust smart lighting line while also answering demands for physical controls and a less-expensive entry point. For comparison, the well-reviewed Connected by TCP LED Lighting Control System won't change colors, but it does comes packaged with a physical remote and costs nearly half of what the original Philips Hue Starter Kit sells for. There are also smart LEDs coming soon from WeMo that might have helped spur Philips into action here.
One of Hue's selling points has always been its compatibility with IFTTT, a popular online tool that allows you to craft "if-this-then-that" style automation recipes. Hook your Hue lights up with IFTTT, and you'll be able to control your lights with things like tweets, iOS location, and Foursquare check-ins, or even change the color of your lights whenever your favorite basketball team hits the court. You can even sync with other IFTTT-compatible smart devices like SmartThings sensors, Belkin WeMo devices, and the Netatmo Weather Station.
With the Hue Tap, that IFTTT integration gets slightly more interesting, as presumably you'd be able to trigger recipes at the touch of a button. Potentially, this could give the Hue Tap a similar level of functionality to the WeMo Light Switch, which will let you trigger IFTTT recipes with a simple long press. Of course, the one-button WeMo Light Switch needs to be hardwired into your wall, while the four-button Hue Tap is totally wireless.
At this point, Philips isn't promising IFTTT compatibility with the Hue Tap, the way they are with the new Lux LEDs. Still, given that they've integrated every other member of the Hue family into IFTTT's ranks, it would be more than a little bit surprising if the Hue Tap didn't ultimately follow suit.
The Hue Tap is scheduled to arrive in select retail outlets with the Lux LEDs sometime in the second half of 2014.