Philips knows that building a smart home lighting ecosystem doesn’t mean just bombarding the market with different types of Wi-Fi-connected light bulbs. On the heels of the introduction of Hue wall switches last year, Philips has just debuted the new Hue motion sensor for its lighting system. The tiny square sensor is meant to be placed anywhere in the home where you’d want lights to automatically come on whenever someone walks past.
The device is self-explanatory, but it really comes to life when paired with the Hue app. The motion sensor can be placed anywhere to control up to two rooms of lights. It has a motion detection range of about 5 meters, or 16.5 feet, so whenever anyone walks near it, lights turn on. While you could set the motion sensor just to control, say, your bathroom lights so you don’t have to fumble for a switch in the middle of the night, you can also set the switch to turn on both the bathroom and hallway lights so your entire nighttime trip to the can is illuminated. While the sensor has limited field-of-motion detection, it can control the lights in any part of your home, so walking through your front door could trigger your upstairs bedroom lights to turn on.
Since the motion sensor controls full rooms of lights, it can also be set to turn on a specific scene if you have the Hue multicolor smart bulbs. In the app, you can set these scenes using multiple different lights emitting different colors to get the best ambience for certain events, such as getting ready for bed or waking up in the morning. With the motion sensor, those scenes can be triggered whenever you walk near the sensor, so you don’t have to go into the app to bring them up.
The motion sensor also has a few presets depending on which room you tell it to control: for example, if it’s controlling hallway lights, it’s set to turn them off after a few minutes of no movement. While these presets can be changed at any time to suit your own household, they can help save energy by automatically turning off lights in areas where no one is around. The same feature is used in a “Daylight” preset, in which your motion sensor and lights can detect the amount of sunlight in the room and adjust on their own to reduce power consumption.
The addition of the motion sensor is in line with Philips’ goal of making smart lighting as easy as possible for anyone to use. The most obvious way of controlling a Philips smart lighting system is through the Hue app, but the company has added support for Amazon Alexa voice control, and there’s an Apple TV app to manipulate lights, too. While having so many options could confuse some people, Philips is hoping that it will encourage most users to make their smart lights work for them by letting them decide which way they prefer to interact with them.
The Philips Hue motion sensor will be available in the fall for $39. (UK pricing is TBC, but it’ll probably be £30-35.)