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.