Philips Taps Apigee to Build an Open API for Hue Lighting Systems
The open API will allow Philips to open its Hue bulbs to greater innovations from outside developers and partner companies, thereby expanding consumer demand for the innovative bulbs.SAN FRANCISCO—When consumer products company Philips introduced its Hue line of special customizable LED light bulbs in October 2012 for home users, the innovative bulbs allowed owners to change the light colors to match their moods using simple commands from an Android or iOS smartphone or other mobile device. But there were limitations. The Hue bulbs are set up through a special wireless bridge that is connected to a user's wireless network and are then controlled through a proprietary Hue app. That means that users can turn their house lights on or off, change bulb colors or make other changes using the app from anywhere, but it wasn't open to other innovative uses that are becoming more possible through the Internet of things, where more and more products are able to be connected to the Internet. That's when Philips' lighting division began looking to build an open API that would allow nonproprietary remote control of the Hue systems. Such a custom and open API could then be offered to developers and partners so that they can use it to extend the Hue line with new useful features that may not even be thought of today. To do that, Philips earlier this year began working with Apigee, an API development company that helps businesses build smart APIs that are tied in with deep analytics capabilities, to create an open API for Hue. That upcoming API is expected to be released by the end of the year, according to Kevin Toms, the manager of development programs for Philips Hue.
"We are using the Apigee toolset to re-engineer our server interface so that we can provide a managed API for third-party developers and partners," Toms told eWEEK here at the Apigee I Love APIs conference on Sept. 9. "Our current system was not designed for such wide use, and Apigee is providing what we need to manage and deliver that. Without Apigee, we would have to custom-build a lot of the toolset they provide in their solution."