One of the worst parts of quarantine is simply being stuck inside, with nowhere to go, dreaming of a place more beautiful than a cramped apartment or basement office.
But a new lighting startup called SunnyFive, which is part of Samsung’s C-Labs incubator, just teased a tantalizing conceptual product. It’s a beautiful artificial window, capable of mimicking the full spectrum of natural light, according to Samsung.
Light therapy lamps, architectural light panels, and even artificial windows are nothing new. Royal Caribbean has gone so far as to simulate an artificial balcony on several of its cruise ships, with an 80-inch LCD screen that pretends to be a glass door offering live-streamed views of the ocean.
SunnyFive doesn’t offer a view so much as it does the pleasantness of natural light—and it’s highly specialized at offering that sensation. The window looks like a real window, albeit with the shade pulled down, so the light appears to diffuse through a barrier (though upon closer inspection, it looks like some or all of the light source is from a line of lights at the top). With an app, you can change the color temperature from a warm, orange sunrise to bright, white high noon, but also the actual angle of the light streaming in, so that you can simulate the way the sun casts different shadows through the course of the day. And from the above video, which walks through a house to reveal a skinny, towering window in the shower, it seems that there’s no technical limit to the size or dimension of the window either.
It looks impressive. But SunnyFive’s claims get a bit tougher to parse in relation to health and wellness. SunnyFive argues that its window can help your skin produce vitamin D even faster than standard sunlight, but without the risk of burning your skin or aging it. How so? We don’t know. We do know that its lighting technology includes UVB light, which is a specific slice of ultraviolet light on the greater electromagnetic spectrum that’s also present in sunlight. UVB light does cause your body to produce vitamin D. But as a UV expert recently explained to me—and as WHO confirms—UVB light can also contribute to cancer.
So how can SunnyFive actually offer the benefits of natural light without any risk? The company would need to share more about its technology to begin to answer that question. That said, as an alternative to spending hours on end in a windowless room, SunnyFive’s virtual window certainly looks enticing.
We’ve reached out to Samsung to get more details on SunnyFive’s technology, including if and when it will be available as an actual product.