When was the last time you called a Wi-Fi router beautiful? I can’t remember either.
A new project by designer Alexandre Picciotto in conjunction with technology company Oledcomm will make you look at the design of data differently. Called the c-224, it’s a lamp built specifically for shared tables at libraries. At first glance, it’s simply a starkly beautiful task lamp, with a black aluminum body that would blend in anywhere and a rounded top that almost floats like a cloud. “The shape of the lamp has to be welcoming, like a meeting point,” says Picciotto.
But the c-224 has hidden superpowers: It’s capable of transmitting data through parts of the light spectrum you can’t see. It’s an emerging technology called LiFi that uses sequences and waveforms of light that are invisible to the human eye to convey information to nearby laptops or phones–anything that’s equipped with a LiFi receiver. The LiFi standard is fast, too, capable of theoretical speeds that reach 100 times those of Wi-Fi. The glowing underside of the lamp features diffused LEDs with an opaque cover that spreads the light (and the LiFi network) evenly across the table. Amid the glow you’ll notice four silvery mirrors–those are specially treated glass that reflect the infrared LiFi onto the table and filter the spectrum so it doesn’t damage your eyes.
For now, it appears the c-224 is something of a proof of concept for Oledcomm to pitch its LiFi tech. But even as a thought exercise, it’s fascinating. Right now, network security is built upon logins and passwords, while the network itself can bleed through walls and floors because it’s transmitted by radio waves. But with the c-224, your network could be open to a table of collaborators–and no one else.
In this sense, the whole nature of the information architect could shift, too, from a database engineer to a professional who shapes the accessibility of information within a space. I’m not sure what the world looks like when data and physical infrastructure become one. But if it looks anything like the c-224, we’ll be okay.