Despite all our advanced toys and gizmos, few inventions will top the creation of the light bulb. Centuries later, it is still one of the most important innovations. Influential even beyond the tech world, the light bulb influences how thinkers approach problem solving and experimentation in design.
The smart, connected home of the future will come with all sorts of gadgets that make life easier — including smart lighting systems. There is a growing market for objects with advanced functions that seamlessly integrate themselves into our everyday experiences. Chief among these is the concept of more responsive, customizable lighting.
Numerous companies are working toward making lighting systems more sophisticated, responsive and innovative. That challenge essentially means trying to redefine the light bulb. These companies hope to elevate the light bulb either by expanding on its design and practicality or creating a lighting system that renders it obsolete. Here are some of the attempts so far to bring something new to the table — some of the ways that might or might not revolutionize the way we approach lighting.
Like other connected lighting systems, FLUXO gives owners the ability to control the exact intensity and color of the light in a given space. FLUXO stands out because of the way in which users can choose these settings. A mobile app lets users control exactly where they want light to hit. With a gesture, users can ‘paint’ which part of the room they want illuminated with the simple stroke of a finger. More than 300 white and colored LEDs are controlled by “specially designed electronics,” as described on FLUXO’s Indiegogo page. The team states that LED bulbs are “only a transitional technology that will vanish soon” and presents FLUXO as a viable and advanced alternative.
It’s telling that Tittle Light uses a stylized light bulb as its logo. Self-described as an “interactive LED light,” the lamp uses more than 500 LED lights to create different patterns. Users can control the product through a mobile app and WiFi. The customizable settings allow users to choose colors and even create visuals like heart-shaped emojis. Other configurations imitate an hourglass or the flames of a fireplace. Tittle Light focuses mostly on creating a specific mood with the LED lights, marketing itself as a good device for parties, nighttime unwinding and more. Vastly different from your average light bulb, Tittle Light emphasizes a much more whimsical approach to lighting.
While some products want to build upon the aesthetic structure of the light bulb, Nanoleaf Aurora departs from it completely. The product very clearly pays homage to the light bulb — a press release contains the history of the light bulb and the tagline “moving beyond the light bulb” — and is described as a “deconstruction of the light bulb.” The LED-equipped, color changing panels come in the shape of triangles and can be configured into a variety of shapes using double-sided tape. The product emphasizes the idea that Nanoleaf Aurora can serve as more than lighting and improve the user’s overall wellbeing through the right set-up and hues.
Lighting gets stripped down to a minimalist structure in VARA, a modular collection of LED strips made with high-quality aluminum. A slim structure, VARA comes in a variety of forms that include a desk lamp, wall lamp and pendant lamp. A light bar uses multiple strips mounted on the wall with magnets. An app lets users decide on different settings for the lights — like a morning setting in which VARA slowly lights up to wake the user — and keep track of consumption. The product does away with the circular shape of the light bulb, creating something minimal and sculptural at the same time.
A portable, waterproof glass orb might sound like the stuff of science fiction but the PLAYBULB Sphere is very real. Thanks to a Bluetooth connection, users can tap the sphere to make it change colors; each product contains more than 16.7 million different colors. The smart lighting device is meant to be used for a range of purposes: as a home décor item, party prop or meditation aid. The orb runs for eight hours after being wirelessly charged. While the PLAYBULB Sphere doesn’t directly state that it will replace the light bulb, it serves as another option for lighting a home with ambient colors — and bringing light to other environments.
The Philips Hue system continues to inspire headlines in tech news — and for good reason. Described as a “personal wireless lighting system,” the smart lighting can sync up with games and TV shows to create unique at-home entertainment experiences. The energy-efficient LED lighting system — which uses Philips Hue bulbs — can be controlled through an app, online tool or smart switches. Marketed as a way to “enhance your everyday life,” the system highlights the very personal nature of smart lighting. The product makes everything from waking up to watching a TV show much more interesting and customizable than your average light bulb or lighting system.