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Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Philips Hue sparkles, shines with Festavia smart lights

Christmas lights haven’t quite received the smart home treatment yet, but that could be changing, as Philips adds smarts to lights on the tree.

With a little over a month until the man in red makes his flight, you might be thinking about pulling out the tree, stringing it up, and reminding family members that Santa is watching and can call to make sure whether you’ve been good or bad. Depending on how old the kids are (or if you have kids), that last one mightn’t be a thing, but stringing up the tree with lights and baubles is something many do all the same, even if they do it with the old school lights they might have had for ages.

You know the ones: a long line of little warm white or cold white LED lights strung up in a string that you’ll probably need to sort out a tangled mess off before wrapping your tree, fake or real, in light that you’ll switch on nightly.

That’s the way tree lights have been for many of us for so long, but it mightn’t be the way it has to be for much longer, with the xmas tree next on the list for being made “smart”, so to speak.

Philips’ Signify has announced a new style of Christmas tree lights on the way coming in smart string lights called the Philips Hue Festavia.

As the name suggests, they’ll be a part of the Philips Hue line of smart lights, and will link 250 smart mini-LEDs together on a 20 metre cord, with the string able to connect to a Philips Hue lighting system and not only run on schedule or a timer, but also change colours.

You’ll also be able to set colour points up through the lights, allowing you created a graded style of colour and lighting on the tree, giving you some creative control for the tree. There’s also support for a twinkling effect called “sparkle” as well as a “candle” mode that will make the lights have a fireplace styled effect, while “scattered” will send up to five colours randomly along the string of lights to make for a more colourful experience.

“We are very proud to present our new smart string lights, an innovation that a lot of users from all over the world have been waiting for,” said Jasper Vervoot, Business Leader for Philips Hue.

“With Philips Hue Festavia string lights, anyone can create a personal lighting experience during the festive season. Homes will light up like never before,” he said.

The Hue string lights won’t just work to make a colourful tree, with support for Spotify syncing part of the package, much like the rest of the Hue range. We’ve not yet found out whether these can add to a Hue Sync set up, but you can bet it’ll be one of the first things we check.

The downside may well be availability and price, with Australian release not yet set (though Europe and the US are a go from November 15), and a US price of $160 for a set of 250 smart lights on a string. That’ll likely make the Hue Festavia cost between $250 and $300 when they launch locally, making for an expense string of tree lights.

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