Philips Hue smart lightbulbs glow any colour, cost £49 each

Meet the most futuristic lightbulbs you've ever encountered -- read on to find out what Philips Hue lightbulbs can do.

Luke Westaway Senior editor
Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.
Luke Westaway
2 min read

Lightbulbs. Simple, cheap and easy to replace, right? Not any more! Philips is dragging the humble bulb into the future with its 'Hue' technology -- wirelessly controlled light orbs that give you complete control over the lighting in your house.

The Hue bulbs look like ordinary lightbulbs, and screw into light sockets as normal. Inside each bulb, however, is a wireless transmitter that communicates with a hub you plug into the back of your router.

Once connected, you can use a website or download an app (the iOS version is out now -- there's no sight of an Android version, though Gizmodo reports it's coming in December), then use the wonderful power of the Internet to fiddle with the lights in your home.

The special bulbs can spit out any hue in the spectrum, so the first thing you'll likely do is light your home in a terrifying riot of colours, then get all your friends around and meet them at the door screaming, "Welcome to the rainbow house!" in your underpants. Probably.

You can use a colour selector to pick colours from photos on your smart phone, the idea being to perfectly recreate the deep blue of your holiday skies alongside the hazy orange of that beachside sunset you remember so fondly.

That's a cool idea. You can save particularly pleasant palettes to use again, and set your lights to gradually fade up as a morning alarm. You can turn your lights on or off remotely and set them on a timer too -- both ideal for foiling burglars when you're not at home.

There are so-called 'light recipes' too, which change the ambience of your domicile. 'Relax', 'Concentrate' and 'Reading' are some example modes.

The bad news is all this tech will set you back a bundle of cash. An introduction pack that gets you three Hue lightbulbs and the hub will set you back £179, while individual bulbs cost £49 each. Ouch.

That's an expensive way to replace a bulb. Hue will also be available exclusively at Apple stores, from 30 October. That gives you, er, one day to save your pennies.

Would you buy these futuristic bulbs? Tell me in the comments or on our Facebook wall.