Rewind: The most futuristic lamps of 2014

From streaming music to recreating the weather, lamps are getting smarter. And well, 2014 was full of some bright ideas — literally! Here are some of the ones that caught our eye over the last 12 months.

Cloud

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Developed by Richard Clarkson, Cloud is an interactive lamp system comprised of an [Atmel basedArduino, some fluffy cotton and a cloth cord. According to the designer, the installation serves as a semi-immersive lightning experience and a speaker with visual feedback to mimic a thunderstorm in both appearance and entertainment.

Patch of Sky Arduino Lamp

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Patch of Sky is a set of three Internet-connected ambient lights, enabling users to share the sky above them in real-time with friends and loved ones across the world. Any of 11 potential weather scenarios – including snow, fog, sun, drizzle and heat – animate the mirror with a gently pulsing gradient color. Driven by an Arduino unit, the semi-circular object gathers weather information based on one’s current Facebook location and displays it with light animations. Meanwhile BERGCloud connects the interactive “lamp” to the web.

Tempescope

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Sure, you could just download a weather app or turn on the news to check the latest conditions, but what fun is that? A Maker by the name of Ken Kawamoto recently developed an ambient physical display that can visualize the day’s forecast, right from the comfort of your living room. While most home weather displays boast an LED screen or other methods of revealing what’s going on outside your front door, the Tempescope literally emulates the impending weather from your bookshelf, coffee table or desk. Aside from the [Atmel basedArduino, the active weather lamp-like device is controlled by a water pump, ultrasound mist diffuser, a series of LED lights, and other assorted components connected to a PC — all concealed within a clear acrylic box.

LUZ

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Developed by Marina Mellado, LUZ is a self-devised lamp for those who are either physically or psychologically affected by the lack of daylight — typically experienced in the upmost northern hemisphere during winter. Comprised of two LED stripes (RGB SMD5050), an Adafrut color sensor (TCS34725) and an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), the electronic system was programmed to modify the lamp’s light colors based on the weather conditions outside of the nearby window.

Waves

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Having spent countless hours sitting as his desk, Frank Cohen had always found lava lamps to provide a calming effect that would help him wind down after a long day’s work. This was the inspiration behind his decision to devise a modern-day version of the once-popular decorative novelty item, which he took to Kickstarter. Cohen went ahead and created a smart Bluetooth speaker equipped with rows of programmable LED lights, each of which illuminate customizable diffusion filters. Whether one wants to keep it on their desk as a conversation piece or furnish the shelves on their walls, the possibilities are endless with this lava lamp.

Walkalight Drone

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The Walkalight Drone is described by its creators as a lighting exploration that merges quadcopter and smart sensor technology to create the ultimate in personal illumination. The air-filled, balloon-shaped orb floats above a user like a street lamp, using motion sensors to follow their movements.

CROMATICA

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Interacting with objects in a new way has always been the main focus of Milan-based design studio Digital Habits. Simply stated, CROMATICA is a half speaker and half desk lamp capable of creating an ambient experience through the fusion of light and sound. 

This digital hybrid is controlled by a gestural interface as well as remotely via its companion Android and iOS app. Designed to deliver both light and sound functions, the open-source, Atmel powered CROMATICA features wireless 4.0 Bluetooth connection for streaming music and a RGB lamp for multiple ambient effects.

Junior

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Dutch design student Trieuvy Luu has created a “living lamp” known as Junior — a whimsical lamp that depends on a user’s breath to keep his energy up. By breathing toward the lamp, Junior illuminates — literally and figuratively — into the perfect playful mid-day distraction. The lamp is powered an Arduino Mega (ATmega1280) paired with OpenCV facetracking. Additional project components include three servos, a camera, a microphone, a temperature sensor and six LED strips.

Harpa Night Light

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Originally created by Trent Brooks for his daughter, Harpa is a large handcrafted elephant lamp shade with Wi-Fi controlled RGB LEDs, a microphone, a speaker and a custom iPad application to teach children about color. The electronics are driven by an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560) with an Ethernet shield for network control. Connected to the board is a 50cm 5V RGB addressable LED strip with 30 LEDs, a 3.3V microphone module for sound detection and an 8ohm speaker for playing back generated ‘white-noise’ audio.

Death Star Lamp

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Always wished to have your own Star Wars Death Star? If so, you’re in luck. Nurun founder David Bliss has modded an IKEA PS 2014 lamp using an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), an Arduino Motor Shield, a linear stepper motor, NeoPixel LEDs, as well as the SmartThings platform to control the lights.

Luma

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Following a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, Luma is described as “a smart lamp for the 21st century.” An ideal accessory for any office, bedroom or nursery, the smart lamp is equipped with a USB charger, a built-in speaker and a microphone. This allows users to do everything from charge their mobile devices and listen to their favorite tunes to make calls and set the mood — all with the press of a smartphone button.

Pinokio

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As kids filled with thoughts from Disney movies, we all imagined that our household items might one day magically come alive and interact with us. Makers Shanshan Zhou, Adam Ben-Dor, and Joss Doggett have now made that dream a reality with their face-tracking lamp, aptly dubbed Pinokio. According to its creators, the gizmo is an exploration into the expressive and behavioral potentials of robotic computing. The lamp’s lifelike personality is made possible through its on-board [Atmel basedArduino which is programmed to procedurally manipulate six servo motors. The lamp can even be toggled into “introvert” or “extrovert” modes, which will drastically alter the movement decision-making process.

Philips 3D-Printed Lamp

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It’s without question that the industry experienced quite a surge of 3D printers and smart home technology over the last 12 months. That’s why it’s no surprise that our friends at Philips, in collaboration with design studios WertelOberfell and Strand+Hvass, developed an unprecedented 3D-printed lamp. Fully-compatible with the company’s Hue wireless lighting system (which features Atmel’s ZigBee and Lightweight Mesh Stack), users can set the mood via its dedicated mobile app.

Notti Smart Lamp

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Fresh off an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign, Notti is a smart lamp that ca be programmed to emit various colors when receiving a text or Facebook update, carrying out an IFTTT task, being awoken by your morning alarm, or even blasting tunes. Devised by Hong Kong-based startup Witti Design, the unique light embodies an abstract geometric shape — which kind of looks a piece of The Crag from Nickelodeon Guts. Notti remains white until activated on, where a user can then select from as many as 16 million colors. Equipped with a 3W LED light, Notti connects to your mobile device via Bluetooth.


As we look ahead to 2015, smart lighting is prepared to surge ahead. According to a recent report, the market for MCU-powered LED lighting is projected to reach $525 million by the year 2019, while the customizable ‘mood’ lighting and wireless sensors space is expected to hit $220 million. With CES just around the corner, we can’t wait to see what new innovations will be ‘brought to light!’

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