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Video Timothy Lord Discovers the Good Night Lamp at CES (Video) 236

Many reporters go to the CES, AKA Consumer Electronic Show (warning - link landing page plays annoying sound) in Las Vegas to see the newest 42.001" LCD TVs, which are 0.001" bigger than last year's 42" models. And there are many boring Windows 8 devices, many of which both run Windows and can display the number 8. These items, along with keynotes from tech gurus like Bill Clinton (We're not making this up!) may be amazing to some news outlets, but not to Slashdot or to Our Man Timothy, who seeks out the new, the bizarre, and the unusual and -- without taking a dime from them -- lets their instigators talk to him about their wares. But it's got to be good stuff, not run of the mill incremental advances. Like the Good Night Lamp(tm), which was invented by Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, whose "work has been exhibited," says the goodnightlamp.com/team page, "at the Milan Furniture Fair, London Design Festival, The Victoria & Albert Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York." Now the Good Night Lamp people are showing off their product and trying to raise money through Kickstarter. But that's enough from us. We will now hand the microphone to Ms. Deschamps-Sonsino and let her tell you the rest.


Timothy: Hi Alex, could you introduce yourself?

Alex: Hi. I am Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino. I am the founder of the Good Night Lamp.

Timothy: The Good Night Lamp. What is that?

Alex: The Good Night Lamp is a family of internet-connected lamps. You have a Big Lamp and Little Lamps and you give the Little Lamps away to anyone around the world and when you turn your Big Lamp on, the little ones turn on. So you can collect Little Lamps through your family members; you might live abroad or in different cities. You might want to give a Big Lamp to your grandmother who lives by herself, and then you get a Little Lamp and you know when she is at home, she is doing stuff, she is just going about her daily life. If you have a daughter who has gone off to college, then she gets the Big Lamp, you get a Little Lamp and you know that she is coming home, she is safe, everything is good.

Timothy: How did you come up with the idea?

Alex: I came up with the idea when I was a student doing my MA in Interaction Design in 2005. And this is something that has been sitting there for a while, and then this year, in March last year actually, we decided, I decided to make a company out of it and tried to look for funding, and we have a little bit of seed funding from some friends, but now we want to get to the next level. We are on Kickstarter from last night. And so we are looking to raise some money to really make a first batch.

Timothy: Now Kickstarter projects often have some kind of a premium? Do you have something like that going?

Alex: Yes. We have, you can get a regular set if you give us £89 or more, but if you give us £150 or more, then you get to choose the veneers or the type of woods that you have on the lamps, and also the color of the Little Lamps, if you want them colored, and you also get a message engraved on the lamp if you want. And this is something that we will never do again because it is a lot of labor involved.

Timothy: Now your background is as a designer. Is this the first product that you brought this far from idea to reality?

Alex: Yeah. This is the first, this next step is Kickstarter phase and everything else is really new. I have always worked in prototyping and a lot with Arduino and this is built with Arduino. And this is really the first time we are experiencing what it is like to try to think about retail, to think about you know where this fits into people’s lives, and how do you market it?

Timothy: Now what about the software that runs it? Are you giving people access to that in any way? Are you using a system Arduino that is associated with a lot of open source developers?

Alex: Yeah. I mean what we are doing at the moment is trying to figure out how best to make the product and then how best to make it open source afterwards. Because it has a lot of those types of technologies, and the platform we are using to prototype is open source. And then eventually what we want to do is have, kind of, DIY kits that everybody can use. Because the infrastructure of connecting lamps isn’t that complicated technologically. It is more about – the use case is more about the product itself, it is more about trying to find something that everyone can relate to.

Timothy: Now these ambient devices, they are sort of subtle; they are not too in-your-face. Can they do anything else besides light with white LEDs inside?

Alex: What we want to be able to build is basically a kind of a platform, a hardware platform for people to start opening that up and then building more for themselves. So we will have RGB LEDs available and only use them on whites, but if you want to hack it then you can open it up and try to use different colors. And then that will also give us a direction as to whether that is a real need, and people really want to see red lights for Christmas or green lights for you know, whatever, whatever day of the year. And then try to experiment with okay well, what if you plug other services on top of that? And what if one of your Little Lamp, one of your Little Lamp is a Skype lamp, for example, and you know, a Twitter lamp, or whatever it might be. So every time you’re added, then you get a little, kind of, burst of light, and whether that makes sense? But we want to focus on the core user kind of experience for now, and then build on top when everything goes well on Kickstarter.

Timothy: And do you know where is the most interesting place that any of these are in use right now?

Alex: Well, right now we have our prototypes for ourselves, but people have suggested kind of really interesting uses and also trying to work with light as a Morse code, so if something’s happening and you want your friends to call you, then ‘call me now,’ and like click click click

Timothy: Are you turning on any lamps in London from here in Las Vegas?

Alex: No we are not because it is a little bit expensive on our roaming and charges. So we are doing the minimum of viable setup for CES but we are super excited and people are super nice here.

Timothy: Great.

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Timothy Lord Discovers the Good Night Lamp at CES (Video)

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    He was a keynote in Chicago in the late 90's on the digital divide.
    (granted he was president then)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ByOhTek ( 1181381 )

      I think the only tech that people take seriously if it were promoted/introduced by Billy C, would be computer controlled sex toys.

      They would take interest, and immediately not want one.

  • !good (Score:5, Funny)

    by stokessd ( 89903 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:14AM (#42545917) Homepage

    Just what I need to have a blissful night sleep is a lamp that is controlled by someone else. Next up, let's put control of the toilet flush lever in someone else's hands while I'm showering.

    • That could be fun...

      Your toilet/urinal flush mechanism works... just for a different toilet urinal!

      • by Minwee ( 522556 )

        That could be fun...

        Your toilet/urinal flush mechanism works... just for a different toilet urinal!

        Rumour has it that Peter Molydeux is working on a project based on this idea.

      • Ahh, the joys of listening to repeated flushing three stalls down, while the guy trying to take a peaceful dump screams in discomfort, while you try to send your log on it's way...

        What could be better?

    • by Zarhan ( 415465 )

      Next up, let's put control of the toilet flush lever in someone else's hands while I'm showering.

      Offtopic, but I always thought this meme was just something that happened in the movies. Is (American?) plumbing really that bad that when someone else opens a tap or flushes a toilet, you immediately get boiled in a shower? For real?

      It's just that I've never encountered this effect anywhere. Sure, sometimes the hot water would be out due to a malfunctioning heater or something, but never had this effect of scal

      • Yes, it can be.

        I've had houses where it was that bad, and others where it wasn't.

        Comparing it to the plumbing from my stay in Russia.
        In Russia, apartments were set up so the whole building had one hot/old water supply, and a lot of pipes going around to each area. Meaning opening a couple faucets (or flushing toilets) of one type wouldn't drastically reduce that type's pressure. It's cheaper, no toilet flush issue (usually minor anyway), however, if others use up all the hot water, there's none left until t

      • It's only a problem for people with small pipes and/or bad water pressure in their homes. Most semi-modern homes don't have a problem.
      • It depends on the plumbing but yes if there is no device balancing the hot and cold supply pressures then with a sudden drop in cold water pressure then the proportion of hot to cold can suddenly change.

        Although it is more common for opening a hot tap downstairs to drop the pressure of the hot water upstairs resulting in an icy blast of cold water. It is mostly a drawback of gravity based systems. Where a hotwater storage tank is used along with a header tank to provide the pressure. Mains water usually i

      • Re:!good (Score:4, Informative)

        by Bob the Super Hamste ( 1152367 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @12:25PM (#42546911) Homepage
        The problem is that some people don't have pressure balancing valves in their shower, especially in older homes and are too cheep or lazy to get them put in. My house had that problem and it wasn't that hard to fix if you know how to solder copper pipe.
      • I remember in college having to immediately step out from under the shower as soon as I heard a toilet flush. It was an old dorm.

      • No one gets "scalded" with today's modern hot water heaters, unless they have tampered with the thermostats. From the factory, the thermostat is set to 130 degrees. Someone flushing might cause you to get some uncomfortably warm water, but no scalding showers.

        I do tamper with my thermostats. My water is 150 degrees. It's enough to scald, if you happen to be sensory deprived, incapacitated, and/or retarded. But, everyone in my home has decent reflexes, good sense of touch and feel, and everyone has an I

    • by Walterk ( 124748 )

      Oblig Big Bang Theory [youtube.com].

    • Obligatory Stephen Wright:

      In my house there's this light switch that doesn't do anything. Every so often I would flick it on and off just to check. Yesterday, I got a call from a woman in Madagascar. She said, "Cut it out." -- Steven Wright

  • don't give bad boss any ideas and this can be a very bad one.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:15AM (#42545931)

    Is the android-powered butt plug. No shit. It's got wifi and a web server so you can browse your ass and control the vibrations. There's also a web cam but I don't know why... there's no light and the camera will probably be covered with lube. (Hmm... sounds like a new instagram filter).

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      One end toothbrush, the other? Butt plug.

      Use em TOGETHER, with someone you LOVE! :-)

      (This message brought to you by the goatse.cx literary society.)

    • I would have expected a butt plug to run iOS, but then again, there is already the iPhone.
    • Sign you have been in Amsterdam to long:

      Is the android-powered butt plug. No shit. It's got wifi and a web server so you can browse your ass and control the vibrations.

      NOTHING in the above line triggers any red flags that someone is trying to be anything but serious/informative.

      Mind so open, my brain has fallen out.

  • by jareth-0205 ( 525594 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:18AM (#42545981) Homepage

    That is a *lot* of money for something that pretty limited in its usage.

    • It's a fascinating product. I for one, am fascinated how they found 100 backers.
    • by hey ( 83763 )

      I can see how people like the super easy concept.
      In practice I don't see people pressing the button to change their status.
      So maybe needs to be even simpler - motion/heat sensor - no motion/heat for 10 minutes turn off the remote lights.

  • by ddd0004 ( 1984672 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:18AM (#42545983)

    It's like the spirit of the "Jump to Conclusions" mat lives on

  • Just set your IM status to "at home" or "asleep" instead.

    • by TheLink ( 130905 )

      There's also twitter, facebook and foursquare.

      "She's probably gone to bed" - because she said so and is actually offline.

      "He must be out" -because he checked in at the mall on foursquare.

      Or even "she's walking around this location" - because she's crazy enough to make her location public on some app: http://www.endomondo.com/login [endomondo.com]

      • In addition, why on earth do I need to know someone's status all the time? This seems like a product for helicopter parents and stalkers.

        • by Pope ( 17780 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @12:23PM (#42546879)

          In addition, why on earth do I need to know someone's status all the time? This seems like a product for helicopter parents and stalkers.

          No kidding: http://goodnightlamp.com/who/ [goodnightlamp.com]

          Off to college
          It’s hard when your children leave the nest, so give them a Big Lamp and you won’t have to feel like you’re nagging them for news. They’ll want to keep in touch with their school friends too.

          Ugh. When I moved out of the country to go to university, my folks just called me if they wanted to talk, usually on Sunday afternoon. Sometimes we'd talk for a couple of minutes, sometimes for an hour.

          This is a product for people who can't be arsed to make an effort to communicate with people they allegedly love.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            It sounds like it's aimed at empty nest parents who want to feel connected to their kids without constantly bugging them. You spend 18 years seeing someone every day, sitting down to meals and talking with them... when they move out it can be hard. You miss them and want to talk to them, but you know that they need their own space in order to move on and grow. I think this is a good way of being psychologically connected in a minimally obtrusive way. Certainly doesn't replace talking to people, but does mak

      • I only post to Facebook when I do something significant.
        I don't want to pollute my wall with trivialities.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:19AM (#42545997)

    Judging from the tone and content of the "article" above, I'd guess that Timothy Lord discovered magic mushrooms at CES.

  • Bubble Tracking (Score:2, Insightful)

    by teknopurge ( 199509 )
    More than anything I was interested to figure out what the leading indicators of the next industry bubble would be(after being in college during the 90s.com fun). My takeaway from this is while it's a fun gimmick, it's a solution looking for a problem. The fact it's getting traction in conversation is fascinating and provides greater insight than the concept itself.
    • This product is significant because it will be the first online appliance that most non-geeks will discover.

      After people get used to the Good Night Lamp, they won't bat an eyelid when their car tweets that it has just received a parking ticket (and by the way, the front left tire is half-flat). They'll take it in good stride when their refrigerator emails to say that it is shutting down unless the six-month-old lump of rotting blue cheese is removed by midnight.

      People will expect their toothpaste tube to or

  • Dear Muggles, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:31AM (#42546137)

    I believe implementing the wizard's clock from Harry Potter would be a better, very similar, idea.

  • by PPalmgren ( 1009823 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:31AM (#42546145)

    I don't really give a shit whether or not you're not Bill Clinton, tell me what the lamp does. I'm not going to click a video and turn my sound up at work.

    The hell does this do?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:37AM (#42546253)
      Internet connected lamp. When someone turns the big lamp on, little lamps turn on too. So to answer your question, it does nothing useful.
      • I swear the people making this are mocking consumers. There was a joke about an Internet-enabled remote-controlled lamp on The Big Bang Theory.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You can click on the Show/Hide Transcript link and it will bypass the video and give you a transcript. Was it really easier to write a post complaining about it?

    • This summary was perhaps one of the worst I've ever seen in Slashdot history.

      Hint: Summarize whatever the hell it is you are linking to. Don't try to shoehorn in a half-critique of CES, plugs for our very own Timothy(okay...), and OMIGOSH Bill Clinton, can you actually believe that, no I'm not making it up, like wow!

      The major problem, is that I have no clue if you are attempting to poke fun at the lamp, if it really is cool, are you linking to a fake product parody page?

      Yes this is just a rant about a sum

    • It's a flawless execution of the old wake someone up in the middle of the night prank. They eliminated the slight percentage of failures caused by the person hearing you sneaking in and waking them up. Now you can blast some light straight into their retina at 2:00 AM with the push of a button.
  • by miowpurr ( 1004277 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:33AM (#42546169) Homepage
    This may be good for elderly relatives living on their own. When they turn their lamp on in the morning, you know they are ok. If it doesn't turn on by a certain time, have the police (or a trusted neighbor) run a "welfare check" on them.
  • Meh, and double meh.

  • CES request (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:35AM (#42546205)

    Please stop producing useless garbage in fancy plastic and metal coverings and give us high speed internet. And when I say high speed, I don't mean that watered down swill your ISP sells you. I mean "set my harddrive on fire downloading torrents" speed. I mean multiple 1080p streams of video over one pipe. I do not need an iWhatever, or a remote-controlled lamp... I need a network connection that doesn't suck so hard it's in danger of forming its own event horizon.

    I don't care if it's wireless, or runs over copper or fiber, or if you have to shoot lasers through the sky. Get it done, people. We're about ten years late to the party as it is right now -- our infrastructure is rotten. Shannon's Law is kicking our butts, and we can only re-arrange bits of metal and plastic and input devices in clever new ways for so long before it's just old and busted.

    The future is bandwidth. Get on it.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      These do dads is what will bring you more bandwidth. The more a large percentage of consumers use it, the more ISPs will make available.
      This doesn't me you need to use them.
      If it wasn't for people wanting media, we would all still be using 1 mb connections.

      If you want more bandwidth, it's available. I suspect what you want is more bandwidth for the same price.

      If that's not the case, the get OC-48


      • These do dads is what will bring you more bandwidth. The more a large percentage of consumers use it, the more ISPs will make available

        Seriously? Let's do the math. If every single person in America had a lamp, and switched it 5 times a day, and each lamp switch command required (factoring in overheads) 500 bytes, that would generate:

        311,000,000 * 5 * 500 = 777,500,000,000 bytes = less than 1 TB of traffic a day, or ~23 TB a month.

        The amount of trafffic going over US backbones alone is (roughly) over 8

  • Innovating new products that you don't need or want. It's a space consuming version of the away button in IM. And the summary? *rolls eyes*
    • Innovation in consumer electronics died the moment the Average Joe decided they only wanted a toy handheld computer and not the real thing, somewhere in the mid-2000s. That's when technology just got too hard for the average consumer, and instead of harnessing the potential of a handheld computer, the tech industry gave them a tarted-up big-screen version of their old Motorola and began to produce these silly art-school-project doodads to tickle their sense of whimsy.

  • Clinton has more smarts in his little finger than the sum of the brains of the 2 presidents who succeeded him.

  • Oh good (Score:4, Funny)

    by ddd0004 ( 1984672 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:42AM (#42546333)

    Someone invented the precursor to the IP phone. It's the IP telegraph. Now I just need to polish up on my Morse code.

  • The opposite being just as true.
    Now, I love my family, but broadcasting that I'm home with the implication that I want to chat, well, I can imagine getting annoyed and unplugging that thing -- and then the police shows up later because my mom though something bad happened to me and got scared (and said 'You're movin' with your auntie and uncle in Bel Air")

  • Someone forgot to replace the lorem ipsum text with the real summary.

  • That won't be making it's ridiculous finding goal. Not very useful and stupidly expensive to boot.

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      That won't be making it's ridiculous finding goal. Not very useful and stupidly expensive to boot.

      I was thinking the same thing - £89 (~$150) seems pretty expensive for a simple Wifi enabled lamp.

  • by David_Hart ( 1184661 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @11:58AM (#42546567)

    1. Instead of selling/producing the large lamp. they should develop a module with embedded WiFi that goes between any lamp and the power circuit. That way you could use any lamp with the system.
    2. Instead of selling separate little home lamps and, presumably, having multiple lamps, what they should do is develop a "Christmas Village" type product with multiple houses, street, etc. Each miniature house would then light up based on the status of the paired module.
    3. Create virtual "Christmas Village" software/web page

    For the "Christmas Village" piece, it could have different scenes: Winter, Suburbs, Big City, Summer cottages, etc. In fact, if they did it right, they could develop the village layout that allows for skins for each of the houses, landscape, etc. which could be changed based on the season, etc... For example, this would allow the user to set up a village with an office building, cottage, house, etc. You could add grass, asphalt, water, snow landscape skins, etc.

    Personally, I think that it would be cool to see a miniature village light up when my sisters, parents, nephews, etc. are home. At least I would then know when to call them to wish them a happy birthday, etc.

    • by Thud457 ( 234763 )
      what's wrong with X10 and a wifi bridge? other than the obvious...

      I really don't see why someone in China hasn't started cranking out some knockoff TRIAC modules and got the price down to where every switch & socket in a house/office/factory can be on this.
      • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

        what's wrong with X10 and a wifi bridge? other than the obvious...

        I really don't see why someone in China hasn't started cranking out some knockoff TRIAC modules and got the price down to where every switch & socket in a house/office/factory can be on this.

        Because most people don't want it and wouldn't use it. You can buy X10 switches for about $15, so if you really want all of your switches to have cheap controllers, you can do it now.

        Whoever wired my house didn't even bother to properly label 10 circuit breakers, do you really think they are going to take the time to map out and label 2 dozen switches and outlets throughout the house?

        And who wants to go downstairs to the home automation panel to enable an outlet just to run the vacuum cleaner.

    • by poity ( 465672 )

      Trouble is, an engineer's solution (works, and is versatile) doesn't sell as well as a marketeer's solution (cute and eye-catching)

    • 1. Instead of selling/producing the large lamp. they should develop a module with embedded WiFi that goes between any lamp and the power circuit. That way you could use any lamp with the system.

      Why does it have to be a lamp? How about the light on your desk goes on to inform you that the misses is using the power sander in the bedroom again? vmmMMMMMM!

  • If you nail together two things that have never been nailed together before, some schmuck will buy it from you.

    How about a left nostril inhaler, that glows in the dark, with your state motto on it?

  • has to be one of the top 10 dumbest items to come out this year, and we're only a week and a half in.

    That said, because I consider it such a stupid idea, people will buy it in the millions. Better invest in the company now before it goes public.

  • by MrLizard ( 95131 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @12:26PM (#42546937)

    While it's not exactly the must-have tech toy of the century, I don't think its completely useless. Some suggestions:

    a)Set up bomb triggered by photoelectric sensor.
    b)Place lamp next to bomb.
    c)Press button.

    Someone's already mentioned the morse code use. Sure, the FBI is monitoring your tweets, but are they monitoring your, uhm, blinks?

    It is worth noting that not everyone is always watching their IM, etc. A signal to people who are NOT online that your status has changed is not without its uses.

    Add in some kind of color changing mechanism, so that you can sync colors, and you can send a large number of message. "Two blue blinks means the cops are on their way, clear out!", for example.

    Heck, I HATE it when I am summoned from my home office for dinner by someone shouting down the stairs at me. It breaks my concentration hideously. Having a signaling device like this with no annoying vocal component would actually be useful to me. Others in my family aren't online all the time; they can't/won't just send me an email to let me know dinner is ready.

    We live in the dying days of a great empire. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that can change this -- not by individual or collective action. Thus, we should eat the bread and attend the circuses. Our descendants (well, your descendants, I'm not spawning) will envy us for having the kind of surplus resources that allows the creation of things like this. Enjoy it while you can; refusing to enjoy it won't change anything, except your happiness level.

  • Because everyone wants to watch their relatives, friends, and neighbors comings and goings.

    Gee. My ex-girlfriend just got in at 3:00AM. I wonder who she brought home?

  • Give the little lamps to people your stalking. Don't tell them what they do.
  • They're asking for £360,000 (~ $580,000) on Kickstarter, a target I very much doubt they'll meet. Feeling a little greedy, are we?

  • Because the night is dark and full of terrors.

  • If this stupid project manages to raise money, would it mean that Kickstarter has officially jumped the shark?

  • The connected rabbit could do this, you move the ears and if so set up via "communing" the ears at the other rabbit moved also. It was better than that
    lamp as you could send a message also and the message would be read out loud, or send a song for that matter with lightshow and choreographed ear motions.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabaztag [wikipedia.org]


  • I see the shiny white side of the house and think "rear projection screen for ads". Damn, now somebody will do that for real.

  • So instead of being kept awake with all the beeps and tweets and flashing lights from your phone or tablet as your friends check in, now your room will never be dark as all these lamps fire up.

    Seriously, I know its great to be social, but we don't have to be so connected as to know when friends and family walk in the door. There is something to be said about having a little privacy these days. Maybe I might start a Kickstarter project for a button that can be pressed that just ejects you out of the social

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan