Philips Hue Sync needs some serious work

I’ve been bitten by the smart home bug and have made a pretty big investment in Philips Hue lights. Recently I have set up lighting around my gaming and movie TV to see if the “immersive experience” really works. Philips Hue recently set up Entertainment Areas to help with this, and pushed out an app called “Hue Sync”. The idea is that your screen is sampled and the lights around your television change colour in sync with what you are watching. Sounds good in theory but the Philips Hue implementation has some major issues:

Philips Hue Sync does not work with lights positioned vertically

I have a Hue lightstrip to the sides and under my TV, and a spot light above it. Setting the Entertainment Area up in the app looks like this:

Ideally this would mean that areas of the screen at the top would trigger the spot light, and areas at the bottom would trigger the lightstrip. However, by creating a simple test pattern on the screen with the top half as yellow and the bottom half as blue, you can see that Philips Hue Sync makes both lights the same colour.

This should not be a technical limitation of the software. Using the free and open source alternative Heustacean app, the colors are correctly sampled vertically (excuse the poor lighting making the top half of the screen look green):

The Hue Sync app could be much better

The Hue Sync app has the following issues:

  • It requires the Java runtime
  • It uses the CPU to sample from the screen instead of the GPU. CPU usage is unnecessarily high as a result.
  • It doesn’t respect Windows DPI settings – hope you don’t want to use it on a 4K monitor

By comparison, the open source Heustacean app has none of these issues. It’s a fast C++ program that samples from the GPU, respects high DPI screens and most importantly correctly samples vertically. 


Let’s hope Philips can fix the issues with Hue Sync as it is an amazing idea. Playing Rez Infinite is fantastic with the additional lighting effects.

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