This interactive light is sort of like the most minimally designed clock possible: It doesn’t have numbers, hands, or even any way to accurately tell time, but it does give a sense of the passing hours.
“The basic idea of ‘Solar‘ is to mimic the sun cycle of any city in the world,” says Jon Liow, who designed the light. After synchronizing with a particular timezone through a smartphone app, the light brightens and darkens at the exactly the same time as the sun.
For Liow, who has lived in both Australia and the U.S., the design is partly a way to stay connected to other parts of the world. “I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that every city in the world has a different perspective of the sun,” he says. “The idea that we can all own a piece of the sun and experience the rise and fall of daylight from anywhere in the world inspired me to develop this concept.”
Someone could continually reset the timezone, Liow explains, to keep exploring the world and experiencing one aspect of places they might not ever visit in person. “It encourages us to be continually curious outside the four walls of our homes, offices, schools, and familiar environments,” he writes.
The light also automatically syncs with local time, so it can serve as a reminder of what’s happening outside for those who live or work in windowless spaces. Liow is currently working on some details to potentially add to the design, like live algorithms to accurately reflect sunny or cloudy days, and color to mimic natural ambiance.
The smartphone app also has the option to flip the light in reverse, so it’s brightest during the night. If someone wants to disengage from the 24-hour cycle and just use “Solar” as a regular light on the wall, the app also offers manual controls.
Liow is working with developers to refine a prototype, and after his team finds a manufacturer to turn the prototype into something mass-producible, hopes to bring the light to market by the middle of the year.