Deaf community empowered through connected home lighting from Philips Hue

Innovative new app from Convo uses Philips Hue’s connected lighting technology to transform the lives of deaf people

September 29, 2014

Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Royal Philips, the global leader in lighting, is transforming the lives of deaf people through pioneering technology which empowers them to “hear” through light and offers a new dimension of sensory experience.
The Convo Lights app developed for Philips Hue, the connected lighting system for homes, uses light to notify deaf people of phone calls and other audible signals that they could normally miss. The app from Convo, a deaf-owned and operated company providing video phone and translation services to the deaf community, allows users to create personalized ringtones of light to identify incoming callers, and adjust the brightness in a room to make sign language easier to see onscreen.
Convo Lights is possible thanks to Philips Hue’s innovative open software platform, which, since its launch last year, has allowed third-party developers worldwide to create nearly 200 apps.
Convo claims the invention allows deaf people to redesign their environment into a visual world, feel more confident and stay better connected at home. It has transformed the businesses of deaf entrepreneurs, driving increased profits and custom as they no longer miss important work calls:
“Before Convo Lights, we missed over 50% of our calls,” says Russ Stein, the deaf owner of Mozzeria pizzeria in San Francisco. “Now we are on a par with non-deaf businesses and only miss 5%. Convo Lights help us run a more profitable business – we’re experiencing a higher volume of reservations and we feel like we’re able to walk into our own restaurant completely at ease, knowing that we will catch each call.”
“In making its API available to others, Philips Hue has empowered us to create a natural and smooth calling experience for the deaf community with Convo Lights,” said Jarrod Musano, CEO of Convo. “Deaf culture has found something which is both visually beautiful and endlessly customizable in Hue – a truly meaningful innovation. The response from the deaf community has been overwhelmingly positive, and this is only the beginning.”
Following the success of Convo Lights, the technology is now being adapted in collaboration with Philips to allow greater home automation for deaf people, including light alerts for door bells and smoke alarms.
Jeroen De Waal, General Manager of Connected Lighting for the Home at Philips Lighting, said, “From the outset Philips Hue was planned as an open system that makes it easy for developers to write apps to. The open API has gone from strength to strength, recently winning Top API for the Internet of Things at the prestigious Digital Accelerator Awards in San Francisco. We never foresaw Hue as a tool for the deaf community and it is great Convo has worked with our system to truly enrich people’s lives.”
Convo provides Video Relay Services (VRS), which allow deaf people to communicate over the phone with hearing people in real time via a sign language interpreter. The new app seamlessly integrates the connected lighting features of Philips Hue with Convo Mobile VRS to offer life-enriching functions that were previously unavailable for the deaf community:
  • Light alerts that enable people to see incoming video calls through light
  • Personalized light ringtones and differentiation between callers
  • Light notifications for missed calls so they stay better connected
  • Optimum lighting for deaf people to understand and be understood by their sign language interpreter
Philips Hue, the world’s smartest connected lights for the home, allows you to illuminate and control your home lighting directly from your iOS and Android device. The system offers a completely revolutionary way to experience and interact with light, redefining the possibilities of LED technology and making light integrated with our world to improve our lives.
Initially only available in the US, thanks to its success Convo is now planning to extend its services around the world.
International Week of the Deaf runs from September 22 and aims to highlight the achievements and concerns of the deaf community worldwide.

For further information, please contact:

Jeannet Harpe 
Philips Lighting
Tel: +31 6 53 722221
E-mail: .

About Royal Philips:

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation in the areas of Healthcare, Consumer Lifestyle and Lighting. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips posted 2013 sales of EUR 23.3 billion and employs approximately 113,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. The company is a leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as male shaving and grooming and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at  .

About Convo

In 2009, Convo was founded by a small group of Deaf people who wanted to experience natural and effortless conversations through VRS (Video Relay Service) technology. Convo’s technologies are designed by Deaf/signing engineers who have a full understanding of the VRS and Home Automation experience. As a Deaf-owned and Deaf-operated company, Convo continues to push for the Deaf community’s ownership in how they want to experience their lives in the US and internationally..