- Signify, formerly Philips Lighting, for the first time added voice-powered wake-up and sleep commands to its Philips Hue smart-bulbs. Google Assistant, the search giant's virtual assistant, will have the new Hue voice features by March, according to a statement.
- Philips Hue users will be able to say, "Hey Google, turn on Gentle Wake-Up" to sync their smart-lights with Google Assistant. The lights will gradually wake up users with a sunrise effect starting 30 minutes before Google Assistant sounds the alarm. For night-time settings, users can say "Hey Google, sleep the lights at 10 p.m." to make the lights gradually fade out for 30 minutes. The Google Home app will let users manage their lights in different rooms, such as setting a wake-up routine for kids' separate bedrooms.
- In addition, Google previewed its Google Assistant Connect, a platform for device manufacturers to integrate the digital assistant into products affordably. Google Assistant works with more than 1,600 home-automation brands and more than 10,000 devices, according to Google's blog.
The addition of Philips Hue's sleep and wake-up routines to Google Assistant makes the search giant's virtual assistant more useful for customers. The Philips Hue lights already work with Amazon Alexa, the archrival to Google Assistant, but as of yet the functions don't include the sleep and wake-up routines.
Connected home devices that people control via voice commands have become popular among consumers. Amazon's share of the smart speaker market is expected to drop to 63% this year from 67% in 2018 as the e-commerce giant faces more competition from Google and a greater threat from other companies, researcher eMarketer forecast.
Signify's plan to integrate its smart-bulbs with Google Assistant is another step toward making its products a key part of the connected home. Signify cites research studies that show how light affects mood and sleep habits, which is a major reason why smartphone makers added night-time settings to device screens. While blue light from smartphone screens won't blind people, as was alleged in a controversial study last summer, it can interfere with natural human sleep cycles, according to research cited by the American Academy of Ophthamology.