Toronto-based Nanoleaf showcased two products at CES 2019: a released textured 2D light panel and a new 3D hexagon shaped light panel.
Nanoleaf’s CEO Gimmy Chu said in a phone interview on December 12th, 2018 that CES was the perfect tradeshow to help the company understand what the market wants. He said that the square panel lights and the textured panel lights were both showcased last year. The textured panels, however, were only publicly available since December 3rd, 2018.
“CES is a big part of [our research]. We get the perspective of the early adopters in the tech world, as well as our big retail partners, they typically come by and check it out,” Chu said, adding that last year many people really loved the textured panels.
The company is best known for its Aura lights (now called Light Panels).
He said that people told the company last year that they wanted lights “that could blend in with their decor, and the textured look really fit in with that idea.”
The key difference, Chu said, is that the new textured panels have edge-to-edge illumination.
“So no dark corners,” he said, adding that the new lights are also expandable to 500 panels. The previous version only extended to 30 panels before requiring a special power booster.
The new lights are similar to the older products, in which you can sync your panels to music, but the newer versions now support touch sensor, Chu said.
He explained users are able to tap any of the panels to turn them on or off, and you can also have light gestures; you can swipe upwards to brighten, swipe downwards to dim the panels, or you can swipe left or right to select different scenes.
Chu adds that a scene could be interactive, for example on some panels it will look like the user dropped water into a puddle, creating a ripple effect across the panels.
He also noted that the lights are children friendly, meaning that they can play simple games like Whack-a-Mole, Pac Man, and Memory.
Chu, at the time, didn’t want to give too much detail about the new hexagon, 3D-shaped light panels, but said that the team developing it has “already seen the first examples and are super excited.”
Of course, if you’re at CES right now, you’ve probably had the chance to test out the light panels, and that’s what Chu wanted, saying at the time of the interview “I don’t think I’m allowed to talk about it too much just because I think we’re saving a lot of it for when we showcase it at CES.”
Nanoleaf thinks more homes will have LED lights
Chu noted though that the company doesn’t stop researching for its next project and added that the company is growing quickly.
“We’ve steadily grown. Our team, two years ago, we were at 10 people, and now we’re at 50 people across three offices,” he said.
Chu added he thinks there’s a shift in the marketplace in the way people outfit their homes, saying it’s why the company created these types of lights.
“If you think back to the 90s and early 2000s, there was a big shift where everyone was buying pot lights and outfitting their basement with. I think there’s going to be a similar shift, in the next 5 to 10 years where people are going to be changing to LED fixtures and fixtures like ours, which are super flat,” he said.
Chu says the company’s main market is on the retail side and for homeowners, but it wasn’t stopping there and is considering commercial as well.
He said that the company worked with Toronto electronic DJ Deadmau5 to create a special display, and also worked with Electric Daisy Carnival, a massive three-day electronic dance festival hosted annually in Las Vegas.
Nanoleaf’s products are available in Best Buy, Home Depot, and in some Apple stores. The product can be controlled with various devices through the Nanoleaf app, and the Apple HomeKit app.
The textured panels are priced at $299 for nine panels.
Shruti Shekar is a telecom and tech reporter for MobileSyrup. She was formerly a political reporter at The Hill Times based in Ottawa and prior to that was a communications officer for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. She loves reading, the Raptors, and all the alcohol.