Thursday, 29 January 2015

SNAP! - The Lightbulb That Doubles As A Camera

US Company SENGLED have debuted a smart LED lamp that also functions as a high resolution camera, microphone and speaker. This lamp is supposed to act as a subtle home security and monitoring system designed to de-clutter your home from multiple leads and cables and keep things all in one place. This lamp streams a video to your smartphone or tablet through its app and allows the user to view videos in real time.  

The Snap also features voice and motion sensors, facial recognition and GPS boundary alerts. So this clever little lamp will alert you when a face it doesn't recognise is about the house, or when someone has entered the boundaries of your home. It is also so discreet that any intruder would mistake it as any other normal lamp, genius. 

(Pictures courtesy of SENGLED and Yahoo)

Snap is another highly functional lamp that SENGLED have added to their collection, some of their other innovations include a lamp that doubles as a wireless speaker as well as a lamp that also functions as a Wi-Fi repeater to boost signal to the blackspots in your home. 
Unfortunately the Snap is yet to be released or priced, but it is expected to come to market this summer. Stay tuned for more info about this bright little lamp! 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

'Bring the Sun Indoors'

New Lighting Company Creates Lighting that Mimics the Sun and Moon
Startup lighting company Sunn is launching an app that controls LED smart lamps to simulate the 24-hour light cycle of the sun and moon. This would deliver incomparable holistic health benefits. 
This app claims to enable you to tell the time 'through subtle changes in colour and brightness', ease your transition into the day, keep you alert whilst working, help you wind you down for bed and eradicate winter blues.
This app will work with Sunn's wall or ceiling mounted plate shaped lamps but these are not yet available, however the app will also work with the Philips LED Lamp. Sunn's website allows consumers to 'pre-order' as the Los Angeles based company is currently crowdfunding its campaign. Crowdfunding is a way for startup companies to raise funds, it is an internet process in which people can donate their money to the company. 
Sunn has stated that, 'We've completed production- quality version of both Sunn lights. This means we've sourced and completed tooling for many of the large components which is typically the largest hurdle in bringing a product to market. We've also completed the first version of the iOS app as well as the cloud-based backend that will support the Sunn app on iOS, Android and web platforms.' 
Sunn has reported that it has organised manufacturers with operations in Europe, Southeast Asia and North America. 
Wired magazine reported that Sunn can help combat depression that afflicts people in the northern hemisphere in the dark of winter, a condition known as Seasonally Affected Disorder (SAD). 
Although white lights already exist to increase productivity, Sunn's lamps claim to offer a kinder and gentler approach to lighting that subtly copies the suns changes throughout the day rather than a concentrated burst of light for a certain period of time. 
Sunn's app can brighten a lamp gradually in the morning to work as an alarm, match lamps to  sunshine at a certain time of location, dim down lighting at bedtime and mimic the moon's glow. 

Companies like Sunn are helping us understand the health benefits of more natural lighting, take a look at their promotion video on their website for more details.

( Pictures Courtesy of Kickstarter) 

Friday, 2 January 2015

Will Fujitsu's New Smart Lighting System Replace the QR Code?

Fujitsu spotlights to project invisible data onto an object. 

New smart technology which means we will be able to point our phones at a particular item in a shop or museum and its details will immediately be displayed on our screens. 
Major Japanese technological corporation, Fujitsu, has offered to do this by creating a spotlight which encodes data in light, which can then be picked up by pointing a smartphone camera at an object that the light is shining on. ( See diagram from Fujitsu below).

This innovative lamp is the latest application of visible light communication (VLC), which can be used to provide internet connections through light, or to create highly accurate indoor positioning systems.This data is invisible to the human eye but can be picked up by an app on a smartphone which could provide an alternative to QR codes. These codes are currently used to allow smartphone users to grasp information or find websites quickly by pointing their phone at a display. 
Unlike QR codes which have to be displayed on a screen, poster or label, Fujitsu's system only needs a light and something to shine it on which will not detract any attention from the product itself.  

A Fujitsu spokesperson has suggested that, 'For aesthetic and practical reasons, it is obvious why using this newly developed technology from Fujitsu would be preferable to that.' Fujitsu has proposed that shops, museums, performances and tourist sites could all make use of this new technology. It could also be applied to provide 'point and pay' services in shops or feed into audio-visual guides in museums. 

However it seems that there is a downside of this technology. It would appear that every object would need its own individual spotlight in order to provide its own data. This makes it hard to imagine how the technology would work in a supermarket or other similar settings, unless one spotlight will be able to hold data for more than one object. 

Fujitsu's application of VLC would compete with solutions from Philips and EldoLED, in which luminaires are used to calculate the position of a smartphone within a few centimetres, similar to a  more precise version of GPS. This could be applied in retail environments, directing a user to particular offers or products in a store. 
 Fujitsu has indicated that the benefit of using one spotlight per object is a higher level of precision whereas an indoor positioning system could only communicate information relevant to an area in a shop rather than to an individual product.  

One potential issue that this technology presents is the way that different objects reflect, transmit and absorb light but Fujitsu has commented that accuracy on this front has been improved 'since this technology uses an image captured by a camera to measure the reflectivity and compensates accordingly.' A spokesperson also added that, ' You can point a smartphone's camera in the direction of the object that has the light shining on it. Different surface have different levels of reflectivity but this technology is still able to read that data from the light reflecting off an object. The camera does not have to be focused on the light itself.' 
The real question is, do we really need this technology just to replace traditional product displays and QR codes? A few years ago we may have asked do we really need GPS to replace maps and road signs, now maps are virtually obsolete. 
Fujitsu is currently testing this data projecting LED system in various applications and working to improve accuracy. It aims to have the product on the market by April 2016.