Smart Home Spotlight for the Deaf, #1: Philips Hue

Smart Home Spotlight for the Deaf, #1: Philips Hue

With the rise of smart home technology, it naturally follows that there are a few of us out there wondering what it can do for those with hearing loss. It’s such a new arena though, that there’s a long way to go before the deaf and HoH community isn’t an afterthought in the process.

That said, a lot of the possibilities with these smart products do work nicely for the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing. So, I’ve decided to start a little series featuring one or two of these products at a time. I’ll also build a list into my equipment pages as I go. I’d love to hear if you use any of these or other products in your life!

Philips Hue lightbulbs

My first featured product is the Philips Hue, a wireless LED bulb. These are popular for their integration with smartphones and devices like the Amazon Echo, most notably for the ability to set the lighting color and dimness just from your device. For those with hearing loss, the Hue bulbs can be linked into conditional situations—for example, if the doorbell rings, the lights can flash to alert someone. There are products for the deaf that already do this, but don’t have the smart wireless integration that can be customized pretty finely.

Specifically, let’s say you have the Ring smart doorbell, and Philips Hue lights. Using an IFTTT (if this then that) simple chain, you can have your home lights flash purple when someone’s at the door. This is definitely something I could take advantage of! The Hue bulbs are still pretty pricey, so this is certainly an investment but a fantastic one.

Furthermore, Philips allowed their Hue bulbs to be part of an open-source platform, and because of this, makers of products and software for the deaf are able to integrate with Hue bulbs. Convo, a business that provides video calling and translation services for the deaf, was able to create a Hue lights feature in their Convo Relay app, which allows for the Hue bulbs to flash when there is an incoming call. Not only that, but it can be customized for specific callers with “light ringtones.” Lights can also notify of missed calls.

Side note: when it comes to safety, definitely rely on the non-smart things. You don’t want to be depending on your Hue bulbs flashing if your smoke alarm is going off, for example. Stick with the specialty strobe products for that one.

Do any of you use the Hue features? I’d love to try this someday. And if you have another smart home product you’d like me to discuss in the future, let me know!



  1. When we renovated our house a few years back, the question came up whether we wanted to fix the broken door bell (and get a new, fancier) one, or not.

    It raised the question whether to take advantage of the smart technology advancements. Should I look into getting the house wired to alert me to people at the door?

    I decided no. Frankly, most unannounced people at the door are solicitors and I usually ignore them. Why bother being alerted to unwelcome interruptions?

    On the other hand, I feel like my smart phone has enough capabilities to help me out when needed. One thing I did receive as a gift though was a buzzing, vibrating alarm clock. Now that the kids are older and I have to schlepp them to their activities, that has proven very useful.

    Doesn’t mean I won’t be looking at smart technology for the future though, as my hearing continues to deteriorate…so posts like that are invaluable for information and future consideration!

    1. Author

      Claudette, apologies for the belated reply! You’re very right about answering the door, I think it’s standard practice to not answer these days. I did have to put a “no soliciting” sign up which keeps them at bay for the most part… Definitely the worst situation I got into was when I was living in a DC rental apartment and the maintenance men knocked to do an emergency pipe service while I was asleep. Didn’t hear them and they came on in and scared me big time!

      I used to have the Sonic Alert vibrating alarm clock! There is no sleeping through that thing, and now I have a baby monitor that does the same (I have a love/hate relationship with it). I think smart home tech is great and I’m sure that eventually it’ll become the norm for most people, including the deaf and hard of hearing.

  2. In our house we use the Hue bulbs in conjunction with our Echo, that acts as an alarm clock. My daughter wears a hearing aid and the alarm never wakes her up. We now have (through IFTTT) made it that our Hue bulbs turn on gradually to wake her up. She is up on time every day due to that technology.

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