A Homeless Lighting Story

Something happened to me this morning that might have changed my life a little.

I went out to my truck this morning to go get a cup of coffee, and on the way there I was confronted by a man coming from the city bus terminal.  I was a bit thrown off by this because of some events that happened yesterday (long story short, I got into a physical altercation with a man stealing from my truck the day before), so I was a bit reserved about someone approaching me by my vehicle in a parking lot.

The conversation started like this:

“Hey, you’re Jim.”

And?  Who are you?”

“I just wanted to ask you about light, man.”

For the next 30 minutes, this guy and I talked.  He explained why he knew who I was, and what he was approaching me on the street to talk about in the middle of the morning.  Let’s just call this guy “Mike” for purposes of concealing his real name.  Mike explained to me that he sleeps across the parking lot from where my truck was parked, and he noticed the bumper sticker on my truck window with the website name on it.  Mike then told me that because it’s so hot outside here in Oklahoma City, people with no place to live go to the library and other places around town with air conditioning to spend their days until they get kicked out back into the street.  It’s been consecutively in the 100’s here for the last few weeks, so Mike told me he does a lot of web surfing.

It turns out that Mike isn’t an uneducated guy, but he explained that he’s a bit bipolar, got messed up with being a drunk, and has a hard time holding down a job.  Mike said that he’s not into meth (and had all of his teeth), and that he’s just trying to stay alive while he “plays the game of figuring” his life out.

Mike then asked me, and I’m paraphrasing:

“A lot of these crazy m***f*** around here like to mess with a man when he’s tryin’ to sleep.  I have a flashlight that I keep in my bag that’s heavy, and those big batteries cost money.  Is there something I can find that has a solar power collector in it that I can charge during the day and use at night?”

I have to admit that I figured the next step was “hey man, can I also have a few dollars?”  After I stared at him for a few seconds, I felt incredibly bad that I prejudged this guy who generally just wanted to know about what he asked, and I snapped out of my dazed stare and we talked about solar flashlights, person to person.  After about 10 more minutes of conversation, I asked Mike if he wanted me to give him my solar flashlight that I had in my apartment, and Mike said no thanks.

I tried to convince him that he could just use it for a few weeks if he wanted (I’m not naive, I realize I’d probably not see it again, but that was perfectly acceptable for me) and then give it back “some time.”  Mike told me that he didn’t want any money and that he could take care of himself.  I finally got Mike to say “yes” to the flashlight, so I asked him to just wait there while I ran and went for it.  As the story seems to go, Mike was gone when I got back.

I went back to my apartment.

I also completely forgot to get coffee.

My life has been absolutely effing surreal lately.

The SEL – Sustainable Emergency Light

Jonathan Janke has created an emergency light source that is pretty cool – it’s chemically luminescent, creates no heat, is not affected by wind, and has the packaging material integrated into the design.  Meet the Sustainable Emergency Light:

The SEL is about as large as a large coffee mug, and creates about 24 hours of light.  From the image above you might notice the four capsule-looking things on the top – those are the chemical activators.  Once pushed, they add liquid to the lower container and create light.  One of my favorite aspects of this fixture is that once it’s reacted completely and no longer gives off light, you can mail it back to the manufacturer who will fill it again and mail it back.  The SEL uses a non-toxic chemical, and never expires if stored properly.  Pretty cool.

The green color of the chemical light emitted from the SEL reminds me of that scene in The Abyss with Ed Harris when he’s in the liquid breathing suit using light from a green chemical light trying to diffuse a nuclear warhead, trying to tell apart the difference between a white and yellow wire in the green light!

More of the Sustainable Emergency Light:

Thanks, Design Blog!

Soap – A Portable Light

That’s right – a bar of light, er, soap, wait, no, it’s a light.  It’s a light that looks like a bar of soap.  A Soap Light.  Jiyeon Ahn and Jieun Kim of the multidisciplinary design firm Luca 12:00 have created this handheld light, which, as you can imagine, fades up and out as you rub it in your hands.  Yeah, that’s right – and it sits in a soap dish looking holder, too.

Crazy.

Thanks, Yanko!

Hey, Can You Grab Me A Tube of… LIGHT?

We always talk about having a spray-on product that can erase stray beams of light in the Entertainment business, and my heart of hearts hopes that other industries experience the same problems.  Our product was always called “Rosco Beam-Stop,” or “GAM Beam-Away,” or even something crass like “Lee one-go-%$#@-yourself, stray beam of light.”  Yeah, we’re all adults here.

Vadim Kibardin’s design studio has produced something quite the opposite of stopping a beam with a spray of light.  In fact, if you can stretch your mind a little, can’t you see this product sitting next to the hair gel, toothpaste, window caulk, or tubes of mustard in your local what-have-you?

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This is Kibardin’s LED Torch – an LED sourced flashlight of sorts that is integrated into a squeeze tube bottle with a cap.  It’s waterproof, it is either diffused (cap on) or concentrated (cap off, like a flashlight), and comes in the amber color or white.  You can set it upright on the cap-end, lie it on its side, or hang it from the pre-determined hanging holes in the top of the casing.  So, as far as form and function goes, what HASN’T Vadim’s studio considered with this lamp?  Did I mention the source is hermetically sealed, and thus waterproof?

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Vadim Kibardin’s studio has some text posted about the LED Torch on his site – a blurb from the LED Torch product page:

The necessity of self-inclusive lighting instrument is dictated by the situations where the opportunity to connect to a conventional power supply network is absent: travel, holidays, public and individual lighting in cases of accidents and emergencies, decorative lights, fashionable accessories or children’s toys. Active entrenchment of modern technologies, especially super economical ones, bright, different-colored micro-lamps (LED), with a working life of more than 100 000 hours, became the reason of many serious changes. A revolution in the idea of what these instruments should be like took place in connection with the appearance of such illuminators.

Thanks for this product, Vadim and gang. I love the design!

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Infrared Flashlight Video Recorder. What?

Remember Hammacher Schlemmer?  Their stuff is often in that magazine in the airline seat pocket that you pick up when your iPod died and you already read your US News twice already.  You know, with the Stainless Steel Wallet and the Rear View Mirror Bluetooth Speakerphone with Deep Fryer.  Or something.

Well, guess what?  They have an Infrared Flashlight Video Recorder, too.  Dude, that’s wackier than Andy Dick in a big pink clown suit.  But you know someone on the red eye from Vegas to Boston looked at that and said “OMG!  That Infrared Flashlight Video Recorder and the Lord of the Rings Bronze Undies, and I AM SET!”

I could be wrong, probably not though.

Specs:

It’s got a 3 watt LED and 17 infrared LEDs – 13 feet of IR illumination.  It’ll take a 2GB SD card, and has 128M onboard memory in case you have to take 15 seconds of video and 500 quick snapshots on your super-secret-not-even-your-wife-knows-spy-mission.  How lifesaving!  It only takes three “C” batteries – oh yeah, and it’s $399.95.

What?

I really need to start a series of “What?” posts.

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Thanks, Coolest Gadgets, this really made my day.

Lavrans Laading and his Mechanical Flashlight

Lavrans Laading invented a totally mechanical flashlight – the only thing that’s electronic about it is the LED!  No batteries, all mechanical – relying on a series of springs and a wind-up mechanism.  The prototype of Lavrans’ flashlight runs for up to 3 minutes on a charge, but is being engineered to have better numbers.  The main point is that it’s all mechanical – let’s see how it goes.

Check out the images – interesting form factor!

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Thanks, DesignBoom!

The US Deep Caving Team Chooses Underwater Kinetics

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I just read a story that made me ask two questions – what is an eLED, and we have a United States Deep Caving Team?

First, what is an eLED?

In the case of this flashlight, eLED is essentially referring to the technology behind their power circuit; as the battery life decreases, the lumens and color temperature stay constant.  I certainly thought they were talking about edge-emitting LEDs, which are in the same vein as injection laser diodes – they produce a narrow, high optical power beam.

A company called Underwater Kinetics developed a high impact resistant, high output LED flashlight that is good for 90 lumens in a narrow, tightly focused beam with little abberation.  Underwater Kinetics has chosen a compound path optical system for the light, and the United States Deep Caving Team has chosen the Super Q eLED flashlight for use in their sport.

Underwater Kinetics gives a list of benefits of their Super Q flashlight on their website:

  • Propietary compound paths optics permit high efficency and compact size
  • Beam produces a bright spot with almost no peripheral light for improved visibility in murky water
  • Powered by rechargeable lithium ion battery or in an emergency 2 optional 123-type lithium batteries
  • Universal 90-240 VAC, 50-60 Hz charger included
  • Energy conservation design transfers heat back into batteries for longer burn time and improved cold weather performance
  • Lightweight- 4.1oz
  • High impact ABS, LEXAN®, polyurethane rubber, and stainless steel construction for durability
  • Underwater Kinetics Warranty
  • Made in USA

Hey, did you know we have a US Deep Caving Team?

Thanks to Flashlight News!