Philips pushes lightbulb firmware update that locks out third-party technology

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This sounds like something Edison would’ve done.


Nikola Tesla does not approve.


Philips says they’ve done this to help their customers…

…because of course they do.

The messed-up part is that most of us don’t install our own lighting fixtures. We buy the house, or rent the apartment, where the owner installed the too-smart light sockets. But the owner doesn’t get annoyed - they’re miles away, maybe hundreds of miles away.


I’ll remember to point people this way whenever some editor here tells me that LED products are amazing.


Yeah, but Zigbee is wireless so it talks to the lamp itself, not the fixture. So the solution is to literally not have those lamps installed in the first place, and given that each bulb is twenty dollars I see a lot of landlords opting for a less expensive option from the get go. Like a three dollar halogen lamp.

It’s not the smart sockets, they’re dumb, it’s the lamp itself.


I have the GE Link system, but was planning on moving over to Hue because they are Homekit complete…and I like the color range on the Hue. I bought up quite a few of the systems over the last year as they went on sale (it was cheaper to buy the starter kit with two bulbs and a hub that it was to buy a single bulb for a while!)

I’m going to reevaluate the Hue now…maybe I’ll find something that just works with the GE.

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The issue facing our HOA is “theft”. Yes, LED bulbs are valuable and the “they” out in the world steal them to sell. When they fix that problem we will buy them again…


Do they use Wink? You could consider Cree as well. I’m still wary of a lot of third parties. Philips, Cree, GE, TCP, Inteon maybe? So much terrible stuff comes from China with insane promises that it makes my head hurt.


Wink isn’t Homekit compatible…I’m in the evil empire wanting things compatible with iOS. Beyond that, IFTTT extensibility SUCKS with Wink. The Hue stuff seems to work perfectly with it for setting triggers and otherwise.

It is all supposed to have a baseline compatibility (i.e., you could manually add zigbee bulbs from other manufacturers to your system) though some did more than others – and I believe the Hue couldn’t control the color from anything but their controller…but sounds like Phillips doesn’t even want the baseline control.

One of the things I love about this stuff – my two nightstand lights are set up on a timer – I get up at 7AM (latest), but around 6AM the lights goes on to 10%. Every 6 minutes, they go up another 10%. Generally, I wake up before my alarm goes off at 7 because my eyes realize there is light. Given that I have blackout / acoustic curtains on my window (MOSTLY for the sound absorption), its the only way to wake up with the morning light. Or a facsimile of such. I guess I’m sticking with GE because it works for what I have now…


Can’t we have some opensource solution for the bridges? That would take care of the compatibility issues, as unless some heavy authentication crypto is involved (which is unlikely due to the cheapness and the resulting low capability of the SoCs) the bridges could then convert the data packets and make them brand-agnostic. (Or make any brand bulb look like any other brand on the device list.)

As of illegal-to-break, I bought it I own it I can do whatever I please with it. As simple as it can be. If anybody doesn’t like it, tough cookies.


Time to return the Phillips hardware with the complaint that it is defective?


Got it. I don’t know anything about Homekit since I lean towards open source solutions for long term installations instead. :slight_smile:

You might want to look into Hue then, I mean if they’re serious about locking out third party tech it means they’re thinking walled gardens and they might as well aim straight for the Homekit owners with phones and apps already.

Either way, if you don’t like LED technology give it three months, it’ll change. Hold off on any additional purchases and see how this goes, you can wait them out and see where Philips goes.


A good high-brightness version of this (takes a bit shorter time to reach full brightness but also is pleasantly slow to start) is a metal halide lamp. Needs just a regular timer, as the brightness increase from low to full is inherent to its warm-up, and a 100-watt one is good for a lot of bright brilliant white full-spectrum light.

High-pressure sodium is an alternative when you prefer golden white to brilliant white, but I did not try that one. Should work similar.

As intuitively correct as that sounds, the DMCA says otherwise. This is what having the best Congress money can buy gets us.


There is an opensource solution for the bridges, Zigbee. The issue is that Philips is saying that they’re no longer going to listen to any open source devices. So you’ll need some Philips-branded product to talk to your bulbs like you need a chipped key to start your car.

They’re also not guaranteeing that their brand of Zigbee products (which I’ll call ZigbeeP from now on) will now work with other Zigbee products made by others. Which is shitty all around if you just want to turn on your lights in the morning with the same product that turns on your coffee machine at the same time.


They can say that until they are blue in the face. Changes nothing for me.

Technological power grows from the tip of a soldering iron.


You just have to go through five minutes of terrible color stabilization and then not have instant on for anytime you want to use that lamp. Plus the cost of a $70 ballast with your $20 lamp. HPS has a color rendering of 20. I would not recommend it for anything.

I’m just telling you what the law is. I’m not saying you are incapable of breaking it.


Love the weasel words they used. Someone will crack it soon enough or the market will simply move to something else.