Leave Your Sleeping Baby And Grab Dinner Out? This Baby Monitor Hack Will Have You Dreaming

Philips’ chief design officer, Sean Carney, on how Hue brings a surprising, unlikely level of comfort to sleeping-baby chaos.

Could Goodnight Moon soon be followed by goodbye checking on your sleeping baby? If Philips has its way, the answer will be yes. Here’s why.


The Philips Hue, an infinitely programmable wireless lighting system introduced in 2012, has been on a slow-and-steady burn. It’s already in millions of homes, more than thirty App Store configurations are available for download, and there are dozens of recipes on the If This Then That channel dedicated to the device. These can be used to coordinate the lighting in your living room with music and album art, a photograph, or to visualize your heart rate for home workouts, and respond to spoken commands.

But the most interesting new experiment for Sean Carney, the chief design officer for Philips and chief design officer for Philips Consumer Lifestyle, is a connected baby monitor–that is now also part of Hue’s repetoire.

According to Carney, this connected baby monitor provides secure, reliable connectivity through an adaptive video engine that continuously monitors the available network bandwidth and adjusts the videostream accordingly. Meanwhile, a wireless link-integrity monitor continuously checks connectivity between the baby unit (camera) and parent unit (smartphone) and can alert users if the network goes out. The monitor also includes a Wi-Fi redundant link and an app that grandparents can download to see the baby when they’re out of the home. This can be set to allow viewing access, but not access to the whole functionality of the device.

Perhaps the more interesting aspect of the monitor is the way it integrates with Hue.

Connected through the app, Hue can have two different functions, Carney explains. For the parents, it sends an alert when the baby requires attention not only with the sound on the phone, but also with the light. “You can have the bedside lamp come on very gently with a nice soothing color. You can also use it for yourself to get from your bed to the baby’s bed by bringing on the lights down the hallway.”

For the baby, it will have different light colors and modes to help calm her or him. “As the baby goes back to sleep,” Carney says, “you can simulate a sunset and bring that back down.”


“We’re connecting Hue to this baby monitor, and of course we’ve done other things like connect it to our Ambilight TVs as well so it gives an enhanced viewing experience. We put out an SDK and released our API so that we can get third parties now developing new user scenarios using these lamps,” Carney adds. “Those are some of the use cases that when we first did the connectivity on the Hue that we would have never come up with initially. “

The integration is a good example of Internet-connected products. And it’s a compelling example of how big companies like Philips are increasingly interconnecting their own products, across brands and product categories, in unexpected ways.

“Now, instead of building out single-point solutions,” says Carney. “Start to think about each one of these devices and the role it can play in a larger ecosystem of connected devices. That’s where we think all of this is heading. When you start to connect different products, you’ll create all sorts of new use scenarios.”

About the author

Leah Hunter has spent her career exploring the intersection of technology, culture, and design. She writes about the human side of tech for Fast Company, O'Reilly Radar, Business Punk, and mentors tech companies.