Spending time in natural light makes us happier, more productive, and less stressed. But if you work in a cubicle, or live in a dimly lit apartment, you don’t have to be destined to a lifetime of artificial lighting. A new gadget makes it possible to bring sunlight from a distant window directly to your gloomy desk or sofa.
The Light Bandit, a small box, is intended to sit on a windowsill facing the sun. An array of mirrors follows the light throughout the day, concentrating it into thin optical fiber tubes. The tubes, which suck up sunlight like a straw, can be taken to dark corners and plugged directly into a lamp or a light fixture on the ceiling.
“As hard-working startup people, we spend a lot of time indoors,” says Stephanie Rosenthal from Think Tekk, the company manufacturing the gadget. “We were wondering if we could do something to direct sunlight in a more controlled way, so we can actually enjoy the benefits of natural light indoors.”
Once the optical fiber is plugged into a lamp, it lights up a room as if it were a small window. “It definitely looks different than artificial light,” says Rosenthal. “It’s a warmer light that doesn’t put so much strain on your eyes. There’s a nicer feel to it.”
A lamp using the device also runs on zero energy. Unlike solar panels, which waste most of the sun’s energy by converting it to electricity, the Light Bandit uses sunlight directly. A typical window, the company says, can provide as much light as one hundred lightbulbs.
The startup is trying to raise funds on Kickstarter for their first production run. They’re also working with lighting manufacturers to make lamps that can plug into their cables instead of a power outlet in the wall.
“It’s pretty easy,” Rosenthal says. “They basically take out the guts of their lamp, and all we need is a hole where we feed the fiber. Then you end up with a lamp that gives you the benefits of natural light.”