The Best Experimental Features In Philips Hue’s New Labs Section

Philips Hue lights are one of the simplest ways to add smart lights to your home. In a recent update, Philips added a new Labs section, where you can try out experimental new features. Here’s how to access the Labs, and the best new features to try out.

For anyone who has ever tinkered with Gmail Labs, the idea of “labs” features should be self-explanatory. For everyone else, here are the basics: the Labs section is filled with new, experimental features that may or may not work very well. Don’t expect anything in this section to be flawless. You’re agreeing to be a guinea pig for new features and, in exchange, you get to try them out early and possibly even influence which ones will get added to the regular app.

How to Find the Hue Labs Section

To find the new Labs features, you can browse them here or on your phone. To find them on your phone, make sure you have the latest version of the Philips Hue app installed, then open it. Tap the compass icon at the top of the screen.

Tap “Hue labs” in the list. Here, you can scroll through the various Labs features that Philips is experimenting with.

 

Naturally, the features here will change over time and, as we can’t stress enough, they may not work properly. If you come across a feature that doesn’t work as expected, leave some feedback, contact Hue if you need to, or disable it.

The Coolest Labs Features

There are a number of Labs experiments that you can explore. Some are simple tweaks to how your Hue devices work already, like letting you dim lights with the Hue Tap (if you still haven’t upgraded to the much better Hue Dimmer Switch). Others are more elaborate and, frankly, cool. Here are the best ones we’ve found.

  • Living Scenes: This feature cycles a light through a series of colors based on a scene. This helps give your room some variety without having to tediously tweak a scene, or use a third-party app for more complex lighting schemes. The colors will change randomly at an interval you set, but the colors should be consistent with a theme based on the image you select.
  • Scene Playlist: This works similar to Living Scenes, but with a bit more control. You can set a list of scenes that your colored lights will transition between in order, gradually changing from one to the next. When it reaches the end of your playlist, it will loop back around.
  • Prepare Me to Go to Sleep: Hue lets you choose a bedtime routine based on a schedule that will gradually turn your lights off. That’s nice, but if you don’t go to bed at the same time every night, it’s useless. This feature lets you press a button on your Tap or Dimmer Switch to activate your bedtime routine. You get the same benefits of a slow transition, without having to adhere to a strict schedule.
  • Presence Mimicking: If you go on vacation, you can use this feature to give your neighbors the impression that you’re home. This turns your lights on and off at random times and in random rooms. You can customize the randomness so that your lights don’t adhere to a schedule, which might give away that you’re not really there.
  • Sunset Timer: This lets you turn your lights on when the sun goes down (without using IFTTT) or off when the sun comes up. It also allows you to set an offset so, for example, you can have your lights turn on an hour after sunset, rather than immediately at sunset.

There are a bunch of other features, and likely more to come as time goes by. Check back every once in a while to find new features and make your lights even smarter.

Eric Ravenscraft covers smarthome tech for How-To Geek. He's a problem solver who never learned to say no to a project. When he's not fixing things, he's cosplaying at cons, playing video games, and watching too many comic book movies. You can follow him on Twitter or Instagram.