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Hue APIs + Uber APIs = The Hueber App

Building a new user experience at the Philips Hue hackathon
Apr 12, 2016

For most of its history, the light bulb has been a simple device that provides light. It’s either on or it’s off.

Philips Hue changed this. By employing APIs and smart technology, Philips digitally transformed its lighting division from a hardware provider to an ecosystem that interacts with the world intuitively and seamlessly. It also created a growth engine: Philips Hue and LED sales increased by 26% last year—while conventional lighting sales decreased by 16%.  

Because the Philips Hue API and its developer ecosystem is powered by Apigee, we were excited to enter Philips Hue’s first-ever hackathon at the Philips Innovation Campus in Bangalore. The goal of our project was to figure out how to employ Philips Hue technology and APIs to create a powerful and useful experience for end users.

We also thought about some other successful digital platforms and how we could incorporate them into our hackathon idea. Being one of the most disruptive and successful digital platforms around—one that connects a billion people across borders, languages, cultures—Uber naturally came to mind.

We integrated Philips Hue and Uber to build a mobile app that seamlessly incorporates both platforms to provide a new user experience. It’s a pretty simple idea: you send your Uber ride status to Hue and track your ride’s progress using different colors from the light bulbs.

We took the app a step further by adding a security feature that, if the Uber rider is in trouble, sends alerts to the Hue lighting system to notify the rider’s family or colleagues.

By using Uber’s open and secure API, our so-called “Hueber” app enables users to book an Uber ride with their Uber credentials. They can log in and enable features like ride requests and profile information (including credit card payment information). The Philips Hue API enables the configuration of the Hue lighting system settings in the same app.

Once the Uber ride is confirmed, a Hue light turns orange. As your Uber ride approaches, the light gradually turns from orange to green (so you don’t have to stare at your phone to track the approach of your ride).

Once your ride starts, the Hue light returns to a green color. If something unexpected happens during your trip, you can send an alert via a button on your mobile app, which prompts the Hue bulb to blink in red. Once you reach the destination, lights will turn violet to notify your family that you’ve reached your destination.

The icing on the cake? Team Apigee won the hackathon, which attracted over 35 teams! After 12 hours and over 600 lines of custom code, our effort to combine two powerful APIs to create a new user experience put us on top!

In an upcoming post, we’ll discuss how we organized our team to build this app, and walk you through the code.

And coming up in June, we're planning to host a joint webcast with Uber that will include a live demo of our Hueber app. 
Hue image: Flickr Creative Commons/Sho Hashimoto

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