Software engineers can finally switch lights on and off, and change their colour, without resorting to hardware controls - thanks to the Philips Hue SDK and its RESTful interface.
The Philips Hue is an LED light bulb with a Zigbee interface which connects to a supplied bridge and thus can be addressed though the home's IP network. Initially it allowed control from iOS and Android apps supplied by Philips but now it allows anyone to create apps using an open API to control the lights in any way they see fit.
The lights were launched last year, and don't come cheap: a bridge and three bulbs will set you back £179, while a single bulb costs 50 quid. Once purchased they'll mesh themselves together using Zigbee with the bridge taking commands for individual lights and responding to queries about their state, enabling all manner of applications to be developed.
Beyond flashing the lights to confuse burglars of limited imagination, and turning the lights low when Barry comes onto the stereo, the broad colours possible with the Hue allow for ambient lighting tied into TV viewing, or perhaps lighting effects for a particular film or music, or even lights triggered by mood sensors.
Not more than 10 times a second though, that being a rough limitation of the technology, and no bayonet fittings either - Hue bulbs screw into sockets and won't fit under small lightshades either, though the granularity of control should make the light shade less important anyway.
There's even a suspiciously well-designed fan site where developers seeking better ways to turn lights on and off can exchange ideas - or lament the fact that they've nothing better to do with their lives... Either way they'll be able to do it while being surprisingly well-lit. ®