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Your Hue Bulbs Could Turn Movie Night into a Light Show

BERLIN — Philips thinks its lineup of Hue smart lightbulbs might be able to take on a supporting role in the next movie you watch.

Philips Hue lightbulbs will sync up to movies in a coming update. (Image Credit: Philips/Disney Music)

(Image credit: Philips Hue lightbulbs will sync up to movies in a coming update. (Image Credit: Philips/Disney Music))

This week, the company said it's working on a software update dubbed Philips Hue Entertainment, which will synchronize your lights to everything from movies to music. The project requires movie studios, music companies, game makers and other entertainment producers to participate, and Philips says it's already done a few practice runs with the likes of Syfy and Live Nation.

So what will it be like when the smart lights in your home pull double duty as your own personal Laserium? Surprisingly entertaining, if a demo I sat in on during the IFA trade show is any indication.

MORE: Philips Hue Lights Guide

As I sat on a couch watching a clip from Moana, two Philips Hue lights on either side of the television brightened and dimmed in time with the music as Auli'i Cravalho belted out "How Far I'll Go." While I can't share any footage from the demo — turns out Hollywood studios get particularly worked up when you do that — the lights pulsing as the song reached its crescendo definitely enhanced the viewing experience, which is what Philips is aiming for.

This is obviously not going to work with all types of movies. You will probably not want your Hue lights putting on a show in synchronization with a movie like 12 Years a Slave. But synchronized lighting could definitely help set the mood for certain types of genres — it could make watching a horror movie extra creepy — and it's not hard to see how syncing up your smart lighting with your game playing might elevate that experience. While my demo took place on a Philips TV, it won't necessarily matter what hardware you use, apart from the Hue bulbs and bridge.

Greater synchronization between your smart lights and the rest of your home is very much on Philips' agenda. Also this week, the company said it was extending compatibility with Apple's HomeKit to its Philips Hue Tap, motion sensor and wireless dimmer switch. In another demo, a Philips representative pressed a button on the Hue Tap, which not only turned on the lights, but launched an Apple Home scene, where a fan turned on, a kettle began boiling and blinds opened up.

As for the Philips Hue Entertainment update, the company says customers will receive it as a free over-the-air update for Philips Hue V2 bridges and Philips Hue color-capable lights.

Philip Michaels
Philip Michaels is a senior editor at Tom's Guide. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics and old movies. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.