As the Philips Hue - the intelligent lighting setup that you can control via your smartphone - continues to grow, there are more product options for providing the light.
The Iris is yet another one of those options but it also has the benefit of working on its own without having to first buy the three bulb starter kit. It can also integrate into an existing system if you wish, but it is otherwise the perfect starting point for potential Hue users?
The LivingColors Iris is a balloon-style light that sits in the corner of the room and fires light upwards, preferably against the corner of the room to deliver the biggest effect.
Made from clear plastic with a white band around the top, the bulbous light sits at a 45-degree angle. There is a thin detachable power cable at the bottom and no physical controls on the unit whatsoever - that's done via your smart device instead, but more on that in a moment.
The light is projected from the bulb's flat top, but the transparent nature of the design also means that light spills from the bottom. This leaking light effect makes for more of a statement and show piece meaning the Iris is itself something worth looking at rather than just a bland object that delivers light in the corner.
Once you've worked out where to place the lamp you need to connect it either to a current Hue system or, if you're brand new, then setup a new system with your Android or iOS phone.
It's easy to do: you need to connect a dedicated bridge device (which is included in the box) to your home's router and then go through a simple pairing process via the accompanying Android or iOS app.
Setup took us a mere three minutes and from then on you won't need to do more than open and close the app for control. If you are connecting the Iris to a current Hue system then it's even easier, and this can be done with a few presses within the app.
Like all the Hue lights, the Iris is completely controlled via the Philips Hue app. That means you'll need an Apple or Android device to be able to use it at all.
The app, which has been recently updated to have more of an iOS 7 look at feel, allows you to do a number of things including choose the colour of your light, and how and when it comes on based on a number of factors.
Using IFFT (If This Then That) you can set the light to do a range of different tasks including changing colour when it's going to rain, flash when your favourite football team scores, or even when someone is emailing you something important. The IFTTT service is growing all the time and if there is a developer API for the service, chances are you can create a recipe for it. It's incredibly impressive.
READ: IFTTT explained
If you aren't ready for that much situational control detail just yet, then the dedicated Philips app allows you geo-fence when the light turns on, to set gradual light alarms, and pick colours from either a colour wheel or even a picture you've snapped on your phone or imported into your device's gallery.
Failing all that there are now a number of third party apps that connect into the system allowing you to change the colour of the light based on the music you are listening too, or if you've got a Philips Amblight TV have the whole room change colour to match the colours on the screen rather than just the lights around the TV. It's in the last instance where the somewhat hidden Iris in the corner of the room (especially if you have two or three) really works well.
The Iris is designed to create indirect ambient lighting and is a great way to highlight architectural features in your home, or add a spot of colour to a dark area.
It is certainly more powerful and brighter than the company's Bloom product, and doesn't lose light by having a shade or cover over it. However it isn't powerful enough to light a room on its own, so is more an accent light than anything else. This is about creating atmosphere rather than pure light.
With that in mind it is also worth pointing out, and somewhat obviously, that it works best on white walls, and no so much on heavy or dark coloured surfaces, especially if you are looking to maximise the lighting effect.
If you are new to the Philips Hue idea then the Iris might not be the best or most logical place to start, especially if you are only planning on buying just the one. But you can then expand the system after dispensing with the £125 asking price by adding additional bulbs and lights later thanks to the included bridge device.
We use Philips Hue every day and we love what it does. The addition of Iris to that gives a different look and feel than, say, the Bloom product. Iris and its transparent design makes for product that solves a specific problem or situation, but is a fun way of adding accent lighting to a space. If what we've described fits your situation, then the Iris will work wonders.