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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > Crowdfunding Critic: UpLamp - The First Lampless Lamp

Crowdfunding Critic: UpLamp - The First Lampless Lamp
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Jun 10, 2016, 06:35 AM
Most of us have our iPhones with us every single day, and they can lead exciting lives beyond just "cellular phone." Your phone can be a calculator, a GPS, a cookbook, an MP3 player, a TV, and so much more. We found a crowdfunding project that aims to give your phone another job to help you in your daily life: a lamp. Today, we check out the UpLamp Kickstarter.

Why? Why not?

Maybe you guys are wondering why you'd want to do this in the first place, but may I pose the question, "why not?" The great thing about using your iPhone as a light source? Well, it's already hanging out on your bedside table, isn't it? It's not like most of us stray far from our phones anyway, and being able to dock it up and out of the way is kind of a bonus as well.

On top of the fact that your iPhone is already there your iPhone's LED light is, well, an LED light. Unlike incandescent bulbs, your iPhone's LED light isn't going to burn out with frequent use. Unlike CFLs, your iPhones LED light doesn't have a "warm up period," -- once it's on, it's already at whatever brightness you want it to be. And here's the best part: Unlike CFLs and incandescent light bulbs, you don't have to purchase special bulbs or lamps to brighten or dim your iPhone's LED. As someone who had been using dimming lamps and light bulbs in her night table lamp for a while, this is a pretty fantastic idea. Yes, I get the irony of saying "it doesn't require a special lamp" when I'm talking about a "lamp." Just pretend this is a bedside dock with a useful app if it bugs you that much.


The UpLamp is crafted out of resin, which as most of you know, is a type of hard, plastic-like polymer. It's designed to diffuse the light to give you more of a glowy, nightlight type effect. The UpLamp is made via injection molding, which is certainly one of the more expensive ways to make a plastic (or plastic-like) object. That would explain why it costs roughly, given the current conversion rates of the Euro, about 58 United States dollars to purchase this hollow, plastic shell.

Now, the issue I have with this whole "buy this fancy lamp-shaped plastic-like shell" is that frosted glass and frosted plastic aren't exactly hard to find. In fact, a quick search of Amazon returned a metric ton of frosted glass vases, candle holders, and bowls that you could drop your iPhone into for under $20. Of course, if you don't need to see your iPhone, there's nothing stopping you from just flipping any thin, translucent plastic container over your iPhone and using it that way, and this includes a $11 garbage pail if you're looking for the cheapest route.

That being said, it does look good, so if you're willing to spend the money, I'm not going to stop you. iPhone docks can hit $75 routinely, so to be frank, I don't think this is all that bad. Oh, and in case you don't like the standard white translucent shell, the UpLamp will also ship in pink, blue, and yellow -- although I personally think the white one looks pretty good.

You may have noticed that I keep saying "iPhone" and not "smartphone." The UpLamp technically is compatible with some Android devices, like the Samsung S5, S6, S7, and Edge, but it's been designed with the iPhone 5, 5s, 5se, 6, 6s, and is currently compatible with the 7's most widely accepted rumors. Sorry, iPhone 6 plus users of the s and non-s variety, the UpLamp won't fit your phone.

The app

At the center of it all, you've got the UpLamp App. It's the whole reason the UpLamp goes from being "novelty item" to "pretty darn functional." It allows the users to set up a sleep timer, control their iPhone's LED with a wave of their hand, set sound and light alarms to gently wake you up, and even use a clapper sort of mechanism for turning it on and off quickly. The app will be available for free via a code included with each UpLamp.

The lifespan of LED

We'd like to assuage your fears: the UpLamp isn't going to ruin your iPhone's flash. LEDs have absurdly long lives, somewhere in the vicinity of about 30,000 hours, or 1250 days, which is just about three and a half years of continuous use. Of course, no one is going to use this lamp for three and a half years straight, and its far more likely to assume that they're going to use it for about two hours a day. If you use it for two hours a day for a year, you're only eating through 730 hours of your phones LED lifespan, a mere two percent! So, no, you don't need to worry about the UpLamp ruining your phone's flash.

Final thoughts

I don't have any extreme praise or critique to give this one. It's a good product, albeit a bit pricey, but it's got a lot of utility. It helps to free up an extra outlet next to your bed an keep your nightstand uncluttered. Like I said, most of us already have our iPhone's next to us while we sleep, this just gives them another layer of functionality. So, if you're interested in what this product is all about, you can hop over to Kickstarter and check out what UpLamp is up to. It's about a fourth of the way to their $40,000 goal with just under two months left to raise funds. Snagging your own UpLamp will cost you about $58 USD for one, or $113 for a pair.

-Amber Neely (@SurferAmber)

Developers: Are you starting a crowdfunding project you'd like us to take a look at? Shoot us an email and let us know what you're up to.

UpLamp: The first lampless lamp! -- Kicktraq Mini
( Last edited by NewsPoster; Jun 11, 2016 at 08:05 AM. )
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Jun 10, 2016, 07:23 AM
What an excellent way to completely flood the bedroom blue spectrum light. Sleep is overrated anyway.
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Jun 10, 2016, 03:19 PM
Are CFCs actually CFLs? If not, please define CFCs. I only know them as Chlorofluorocarbons.
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Jun 10, 2016, 03:25 PM
"We'd like to assuage your fears: the UpLamp isn't going to ruin your iPhone's flash. LEDs have absurdly long lives, somewhere in the vicinity of about 30,000 hours, or 1250 days, which is just about three and a half years of continuous use."

I'd like to put a *very* large caveat on this and all other statements citing 25,000 to 50,000 hour lifespans on LEDs: In every case, those figures are for an LED kept at a certain (relatively low) temperature.

I happen to work at a research lab that, among other things, tests the longevity of cheap, often-poorly-designed LED flashlights and small lamps. With proper heat management, they almost certainly will last as long as claimed, and most people probably have an '80s stereo or something with a dim (hence cool) red LED in it that's been going strong for hundreds of thousands of hours.

But with poor heat management (that is, insufficient heatsinking and other means of keeping the diode cool) LEDs can and will dim to a tiny fraction of their initial brightness *very* quickly (and permanently)--on the order of maybe a few hundred hours. They don't technically stop working entirely, they're just a fraction of the original brightness.

Whether this applies to the iPhone flash LED or not, I honestly have no idea. Its primary purpose is for taking photos, which is why the fraction-of-a-second flash is quite a bit brighter than the continuous flashlight mode--it isn't on long enough for heat to be a problem. Apple obviously doesn't think leaving it on for a few minutes as a flashlight is a problem, but I'm not 100% sure they designed it with enough heat management to run for hours at a time every day--certainly, that's way outside of the expected use case.

Point being, it might work perfectly as a ridiculously expensive, somewhat dim bedside lamp for far longer than the life of the phone. But it's at least possible that after leaving it on for, say, 2 hours a day for a year, the LED is noticeably dimmer.
Naty Moskovich
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Jun 11, 2016, 02:37 AM
Dear Mkosuke,
My name is Naty - the creator of the UpLamp.
Based on the LED chip in use on iPhone and on Samsung,
and based on the efficiency study I did over the past year,
Im confident to say that there is no degradation in light output,

Off course that I cannot perform an real empirical study of thousands of of LEDs specimens, That's why we have Luxeon and Samsung's maintenance reports, and based on those, we should be safe, very safe in terms of life span.

Dear Sidewaysdesign,
Artificial light is everywhere, the question is how good its CRI, and again in those specific models, the CRI is pretty high (even higher than common domestic lights - as required for photography), so, there is a very good chance that this LED performs better than some (or many) of the LED lights (bulbs / fixtures) out there.

LEDs are not as 'natural appearing' as incandescent or bonfire light, but that's where we're heading - towards energy efficient lighting solutions, we did not invent any thing in that sense..

Naty Moskovich
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Jun 11, 2016, 02:54 AM
That being said,
We cant be sure and responsible for all phone models out there, there might be devices with poor lumen maintenance - this is one of the reasons we stick to the main phone producers, and limit to ones we can actually try out, and know their LED chip type and life span reports. (not all manufacturers publish lumen maintenance reports).

Amber Neely
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Jun 11, 2016, 08:09 AM

Woah! Great catch, man. Sorry about that. As a sustainability/conservation major, I tend to use both terms on a... well, constant basis, so at this point I'm pretty sure this is the 50,000th time that I've swapped CFL for CFC and vice-versa. I fixed it, though.

Good eye!

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