What it's Like Watching TV With Hue Light Integration

In December we learned that the Philips Hue lighting system would be integrated with the SyFy show 12 Monkeys, set to premiere in January. Since the premiere of the show was this last weekend, I tried it out with my Hue bulbs to let you know how it works.

First off, you need a set of Hue bulbs, the color-changing ones with the hub (available at Apple stores as a "starter kit"), and you also have to get the free SyFy Sync app for your iOS (or Android) device. Within the app there's a setting where you connect to the hub for the Hue lights, then choose the ones you want to include in the show.

Once you select the lights, you're set to watch the show. A couple of notes about the app: It won't let your device go to sleep because it's using the microphone to "listen" to the show so it knows when to change the lighting, and it won't run in the background so if you leave the app your lights quit changing.

Once you're all synced up, it's time for not 10, not 11, but 12 Monkeys!

Once the lights are set up, choose the show you're watching from the list available which right now is only Sharknado and 12 Monkeys. When you get to the right place, you'll see the microphone listening for the show, and at certain points there are some second screen items like quizzes and trivia that appear. I tested this live, and then also tested it with the TiVo recording, and even with skipping around I still got the same lighting effects, which is very handy.

Learn more about characters, actors, and the plot within the app during the show.

When this was announced I wasn't sure how it would go since "subtle" doesn't seem to be in the vocabulary of the network behind the Sharknado trilogy. You know, a trilogy. Because there were so many unanswered questions from Sharknado 1 and 2.

However, I was pleasantly surprised when I watched the show and the lighting effects were pretty low-key for the most part. In a couple of "lightning bolt" moments, the lights went all bright and flashed at random, and in other places the lights were dimmed slightly or changed color a little. A few times I didn't even notice they had changed! Overall it wasn't a constant change in the lighting of the room, and when they were involved in the effects on the show, it was nifty. See below:


Because of the way this room is set up, there are two lights and a LightStrip (the LED strip) on the left of the couch, and three bulbs in an overhead fixture between the couch and the TV, so the whole room got in on the act, including the LightStrip, which I didn't expect, somehow I figured it would be bulb-only.

Installing the app and connecting it to the lights was pretty easy and a process I'm familiar with since I have connected the bulbs to other apps in the past. I thought it was confusing for the SyFy Sync app to try to show me video while the show was still playing, but mostly it was a good experience and if you have Hue bulbs in a room where you watch TV, I'd suggest trying this out. Right now it seems like a novelty, but as the technology improves I could see this getting a lot more interesting.