Philips Hue Smart Lamps

Hue Hub and Lamps

Before we begin let’s start off by stating that the following is my own experience and not a recommendation, also this post is not going to talk all things ‘Hue’ but will focus on the ‘basics’ to get up and running. Firstly you are going to need a bridge (version 2.0 for HomeKit compatibility) this can be purchased separately but can be cheaper if bought as a starter kit – the Hue White and Colour Ambiance kit will effectively give you 3 lamps and a free bridge for instance in either BC or ES fittings, this is where I started and it is certainly fun to mess around with the colour options.

The following lamps, and hub, are your basic options (you can get light strips and desk/floor lamps but we will not be talking about those in this post directly). All devices are Energy Class A+ Rated.

  • Hue Bridge 2.0 @£50
  • Hue White and Colour Ambiance – 16.8 million colours, lamp temperature range of warm white (2200K) to cool white(6500K) light & dimmable
    • E27/ES or B22/BC (10W) @£50
    • E14/SES  (6W) @£50
    • GU10 (5.5W) @£50
  • Hue White Ambiance – lamp temperature range of warm white (2200K) to cool white(6500K) light  & dimmable
    • E27/ES or B22/BC (9.5W)  @£25
    • E14/SES (6W) @£30
    • GU10 (5.5W) @£25 (or x2 for £44)
  • Hue White – dimmable
    • E27/ES or B22/BC (9.5W) @£15

Why did I decide to upgrade to smart lamps? well curiosity and the fact that the E14 lamps I was using were costing me £6 a time and were blowing out at one-a-month and the cost of changing fittings and purchasing lamps would be cost effective – not to discuss the energy savings. Also smart lamps are a cheap and easy way to move into the Smart Home experience. The great thing about Philips Hue is that they are well established, are easy to expand beyond any initial purchase and fall into a number of Smart eco-systems – Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Home. So you can use or move between different control systems should you wish to.

So what lamps should I purchase? well let’s do a quick calculation based on fittings already downstairs:

  • Lounge: 3 x B22 ceiling / 3 x B22 floor lamps
  • Dining room:  10 x E14 ceiling
  • Kitchen: 3 x E14 ceiling
  • Utility: 4 x GU10 ceiling

Now given when I started this journey the E14 lamps did not exist until April 2017 so I was going to have to change the fittings in the dining room and kitchen but for the purposes of this post (if E14’s were available) the cost of upgrading to colour lamps would be £1,150 (23 Lamps x £50 = £ 1,150).

Burning an astonishing 1111 Watts for all the rooms main lights and table/floor lamps, mainly due to lack of natural lighting lights in the kitchen and utility are on throughout the day, I have now reduced it down to a highly respectable 97W and with utilising the smart abilities of the lighting through timers and sensors this should further reduce costs. The reduction in part was by needing to replace multiple E14/SES up lighter fittings with singular E27/ES downlighters. My cost for lamps ended up being a respectable £300, this may seem a lot but keep in mind the abilities of the smart lamps that I did not have before. I now have three colour floor uplighters in the lounge for those cosy movie nights, three ambience or the lounge ceiling and the rest as white only. We only (currently) really use the coloured Hue’s to set a movie night theme of blue, currently the ambience Hue’s are not fully utilised.

I learnt some important lessons along the way and would recommend based upon my experience:

  1. Only purchase lamps that give you the functionality you would really use, I’m not interested in turning my utility room into various shades of green or even having a cool white spectrum
  2. E27/ES (Edison Screw) fittings are a lot more common than B22/BC (Bayonet Cap) – You can purchase E27/ES to B22/BC  adapters but not B22/BC to E27/ES
  3. You can purchase splitters to convert 1xE27/ES to 2xE27/ES (but you would need room in any fitting for the extra lamp addition)
  4. Wait until  there is a special on the hue starter kit – they can go as low as £125, and the ambience have reached as low as £18. You don’t have to buy everything at once!

Interested in using Homekit in the UK? visit & join https://www.facebook.com/groups/homekituk/ 

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The Automated Smart Home

Smart Home

This year I decided to delve into the world of the Smart Home and although it is relatively well established and there are many great products it is also a time of competition for the  big players that whilst pushing the boundaries that benefits the consumer by creating amazing products but may well hurt the individual in the pocket if they don’t choose wisely (as much as you can) and invest in an ecosystem that may be destined to fail against the competition.  Take for example Belkin’s WeMo Smart Switches , a stand-alone smart socket product in their own right with an App for both Android and iOS devices, they function happily with the Amazon Echo (for those that don’t know the Echo is a hands-free speaker voice controlled speaker that connects to the Google Alexa Voice Service to play music, provide information and control smart devices). Anybody investing in them heavily may have felt that their money may have been spent on the wrong product if they wanted to get involved with Apple’s HomeKit solution (fear not, for it has been recently announced that they are to be compatible through an additional hub). So although you may take a wrong turn, lose-your-footing or lighten-your-wallet or purse upon the journey to a smarter home the future is brighter and evolving all the time, especially from this current year onwards. Over the next year there will be a number of posts connected with the Smart Home and associated devices.

For my own set-up I have a number of considerations:

  1. Use of Apple’s Homekit Eco-system (due to having the Apple TV 4th Gen – this acts as a central hub for HomeKit and allows devices to be controlled away from the house via the web)
  2. Use of Amazon’s Echo Eco-system (due to having my in-laws buy us one at Christmas)
  3. Compatibility between the two prior mentioned systems (where possible!)
  4. Not to go too crazy (yet) as we are hoping to move house in the near future
  5. The lag behind the US, we only have a small amount of devices compared to the US. Try looking for a Smart Light Switch and you will quickly realise.

Of course all of this is likely to have implications upon education – using them in class as virtual tutors? upskilling electricians, engineers or technicians for installation? there is evidence of them creeping into more everyday life (a hotel in the US now has one Amazon Echo in all rooms, over 100, to offer information and ordering facilities as well as comms between rooms. So exciting times ahead.

Interested in using Homekit in the UK? visit & join https://www.facebook.com/groups/homekituk/ 

 

DESTEK V3 Virtual Reality VR Headset

DESTEK V3 Virtual Reality VR Headset

VR (Virtual Reality) is definitely on the horizon and one of the ‘next big things’ in the world of interactive entertainment and educational technologies. From exploring terrains or areas that learners would not be exposed to or the mountain of risk assessment alone making it impossible can suddenly transport your learners from differing perspectives such as helicopter rides over London to distant lands and the rim of a live volcano and onto an on-stage presence at gig or musical. Coupled with an immersive audio experience is one hell of a ride! but i shudder at this future and fear for the learners that will feel my pain – literally!

So why the negativity? well a fact about me, I get physically sick when playing 3D games! Now this may seem daft, especially teaching (albeit in the recent past) game 3d engines. But I have never been able to get beyond it, this is a huge concern to the likes of the military that whilst saving a fortune by having their personnel train in VR environments there are those that still need the real thing due to suffering debilitating nausea. Something like 1% feels any ill affects withe 0.1% of those having physical reactions -its worthy of research to further make savings. I for one would welcome any solution (even in part). I am rarely able to play more than say 30 minutes before feeling queasy – often physically ill, and recovering for over 6 hrs+. To just be able to play Minecraft with my little boy would makehis day, and not have him feel guilty when I do play and have to stop due to illness. But there are other worse than me, even being set off by waterways and supermarkets (I kid you not – read the art5icle on the BBC – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-38715719 )

So despite all the ill-feeling I splashed out on a reasonably priced  DESTEK V3 Virtual Reality VR Headset, it fits my iPhone 6 Plus (without case), is well constructed and has the Magnetic switch (a must in my opinion s  for low end, low cost VR goggles). Fantastic device, if a little uncomfortable at the bridge of the nose it has allowed me(and my six year old) to go ‘wow’ at VR. Don’t get me wrong VR is still in early days (we dare not mention the flash in the pan 3D TV) but for sub £30 its a worthy expense. Yes it makes me sick but to have a ‘go’ at VR that is although not matured is not exactly fledgling either and the price tag certainly does not make my blood boil when i suffer from ‘curiosity killed the cat’, here’s hoping that the earlier link bears some useful findings to support those like me.

So linking back to the educational aspect and all I hear about the fact that VR will play a part, well I am already seeing that I will be those in the minority and hope that ‘differentiation’ will be considered when there are not an insignificant amount of learners (and educationalists) that will break out in a cold sweat at the very thought of VR in an educational programme – beneficial or not! (there may be a surge in travel sickness remedies!)

Note: VR should not be something that you expose those under seven for any length of time!

Bag o’ Tech

portable gadgets

A number of weeks ago I was challenged to write a post about the tech I carry around with me, so here it is in order of least used to most…

Ultra book: This is only a work horse from work and the only thing going for it is that it is light. It’s more a necessity due to travelling around a lot and needing to access work related systems. It’s often dead the next day so it’s charger is always in tow.

Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard: my go to kit when I need to write up a report quickly on my iPad or iPhone. It does not get used enough, it’s a great piece of kit, often I use the keyboard of the iPad.

USB to Lightening Adapter: an indulgence for connecting a USB microphone to the iPad or iPhone.

Lightening Charge Cable: for the iOS devices

Presentation Pointer: for when you have to give presentations but don’t want to be tethered to the front of the room

 

Now onto my must haves!

Samson Go Mic: A fantastic mic that is used regularly to add audio commentary to presentations to support learners with their online sessions.

Headphones: A pair of wired headphones for when I am recording audio on the go with the aforementioned mic.

iPad: my mainstay bit of kit, quick, light, versatile. Reports and emails in the main.

iPhone 6 Plus: need I say anything? My backup when the iPad dies. Messaging and audio in the most part.

Apple Watch: yes a new addition, the pebble has been relegated for DIY so as not to damage my Apple Watch.

Return of the Blog

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Things have been hectic over the last few months, and unfortunately the blogging has took a back seat. But as things calm down for the summer the posts will increase, in part because I have been itching to start blogging again and in part as I have a whole bundle of things worth blogging about.

New tablets, audio equipment and apps. As well as updates to old posts. So expect regular weekly posts to resume. 

 

Childhood in the Digital Age – Week 4

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This week I completed the fourth and final week of the the Childhood in the Digital Age FutureLearn online course. This weeks focus was upon technology in the future classroom.

This week, although pitched as future classrooms, outlined what is going on in the classrooms of today. Namely flipped, teachers as mentors, the ability to utilise metrics and enabling individualised support (always a target and a challenge for any educator) and how technology is supporting these endeavours. Going on to enabling self progression coupled with the ability to receive immediate feedback can accelerate learning in comparison with established forms of learning. Two apps that were highlighted was the Open Universities and ‘Our Story’ (for iOS or Android) and the maths apps developed (and later modified for the UK) by One Billion (for iOS) for 3-6 year olds.

This week took about 60 minutes.

Andy

Childhood in the Digital Age – Week 3

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This week I completed the third week of the the Childhood in the Digital Age FutureLearn online course. This weeks focus is upon thinking and learning behaviours that are emerging from digital learning.

This weeks, the best so far, highlight for me was in regards to “text speak” and a linked to an excellent video resource outlining the ‘problem’ with text speak, not that it has issues in itself but that it is perceived incorrectly. It raises the view that if we look at text speak from a fingered speech perspective then it makes sense, we don’t verbalise with long passages of prefect pronunciation, it utilises conventions that suit its own medium that we have not had the opportunity to develop until the age of the instant mobile communication.

And far from a language decline, written communication is relatively new in our own evolution, text speak should be seen for its creativity, a more natural form of communication and one that is actually evolving. The example is given of the term ‘LOL’ which has evolved from a ‘Laugh Out Loud’ Acronym to one that indicates empathy/agreement or the use of ‘slash’ as a way to move topic which would otherwise be indicated through mannerisms or pauses in face to face communication.

I remember using emoticons and acronyms when using Internet Relay Chat (IRC), emoticons evolving into emojis that has recently had skin tone modifiers,  maybe we should see text speak as more a strengthening of linguistic repertoire than a decline. Surely other systems have evolved? After all we don’t write or speak like Shakespeare and Latin is certainly not mainstream.

Part of this week was also multitasking, when is too much and when is it appropriate, with a fascinating look on the beneficial impact of gaming such as in improved eyesight, attention and tracking and positive effects on those with ADHD such a being less impulsive.

 

This week took about 75 minutes.

Andy

Childhood in the Digital Age – Week 2

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This week I completed the second week of the the Childhood in the Digital Age FutureLearn online course. This weeks focus is upon childhood personas online and forming friendships that may/may not affect social development.

One forum post pointed to a great video by the raconteur Stephen Fry discussing the impact and future of the internet [ https://youtu.be/jspXk0LjN_Y ].

Every technology or tool can be subverted, its about instilling values about the correct use and inappropriateness. As the pace of life ever quickens we need mechanisms to keep pace, young people know far more than previous generations and the online world such as utilising YouTube to self-study supports this on-going trend. The fact that online will never go away, far from it, it will continually evolve and we need to develop support mechanisms that evolve alongside.

We have heard a number of comments regarding cyber-bullying or trolling and I wonder what you think of the article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-33690326 ? A blessing for those making a genuine mistake in the online world at a young age, or a license to not consider wider implications? I would be very interested when the publish the report at the end of the year.

The later part of this weeks session looked at safe environments (club penguin, moshi monsters and habbo) and the use of avatars.

This week took about an 90 minutes.

Andy

Childhood in the Digital Age – Week 1

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This week I completed the first week of the the Childhood in the Digital Age FutureLearn online course. This week set the scene looking at the risks versus the  opportunities and the disproportion between the two. Both sides of the argument were explored and  the chasm of drama or risky opportunities highlighted. The three hour course took me 90 minutes, and that included looking at all the media and reviewing the forums. I am looking forward to next weeks sessions, especially after no homework other than thought provoking reflections.

 

Andy