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Teardown: Casper’s Clever Little Nightlight (bolt.io)
450 points by retSava 18 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 225 comments

I bought one, as I sell a product with a similar use case [0].

My impressions: The overall concept is great. The UX is cool, but some of the UX choices are strange to me. For example, automatically dimming down when you turn the light on (you have to press the button to pause it) vs. the other way around. It works well as a wake-up light, although I would have preferred something higher-blue for the morning.

There's really nothing "low-blue" about this light compared to other 2700K LED lights, other than the fact that it has a dimmer built in. The 2700K diodes they chose don't have better color quality than normal LED bulbs. It has "amber" (somewhere around 2000-2200K) LEDs at the very bottom end of the range that have great color quality, but they are too dim for anything but navigating to the bathroom at night.

They are modulating the LEDs with PWM at a very high frequency, almost 8 kHz. That's better than most of today's smart lighting by far. There's still debate about 100% flicker actually being healthy, even at higher frequencies.

For the lighting nerds, I captured photometric and flicker measurements, which you can review at [1].

Overall, I think Casper's lamp is a good effort. I hope future versions can improve the color quality, some of the interactions, and the overall healthiness of the light compared to regular lighting.

[0] Bedtime Bulb: https://bedtimebulb.com/

[1] Casper Glow Photometrics: https://www.dropbox.com/s/u8n0way6xqwbqcd/Casper%20Glow%20Ph...

I suppose there are two types of people: those who would consider it fine if a night light is on continuously all night, and those who would not.

I'm firmly in the second category. I want my room to be as dark as possible while I'm sleeping. I don't have a night light right now, but if I did, I would get something that errs on the side of not being lit. For example, a motion-activated one.

If that is what this dim by default behavior is intended to accomplish, then it sounds like a wonderful idea to me. A night light is a hard sell for me in the first place, but this is the sort of thing that might convince me to consider it.

I totally agree the dim to dark is an amazing feature before bed. I just wish they would use something better than a 2700K LED if it's supposed to be used in the 15-45 minutes before sleep.

In my opinion, if people are able to sleep in darkness, they should, and it's not a good habit to start kids out sleeping with the lights on.

>> and it's not a good habit to start kids out sleeping with the lights on.

Why? I usually see issues going the other way, where kids from birth get absolute quiet and dark, then can't get to sleep without those conditions for the rest of their lives (i.e. adults who need blackout curtains and ear plugs to sleep).

I'm not a doctor, but we know about the negative effects of light on sleep. Our species evolved with little nighttime light, and we know the mechanism by which our circadian rhythms are tricked by artificial light.

Most sleep experts (including pediatric sleep experts) recommend blacking out your room, removing all electronics, etc.

Perhaps an expert in this area can chime in, but I don't think light during sleep is positive.

While not conclusive, it would appear that light and subsequent circadian disruption may increase chances of things such as breast cancer. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002207/

From an evolutionary biology standpoint, I would expect being able to sleep through light and noise a negative for survival.

Did the moon not exist during evolution?

It’s interesting to think about the origin of the many ancient myths and legends about human behavior during full moons (i.e. insane behavior, sleepwalking, criminality,accidents, etc) and the possibilities of even that small amount of light (as generated by a full moon) having an affect on human behavior and emotion, especially during times of our evolution when the alternative was a nearly pitch black environment.

It did, and it actually does have a circadian effect. But it has much less illuminance than most artificial light sources. That's what I mean when I say "little nighttime light."

The full moon under the best possible conditions can reach about 0.3 lux illumination.

By comparison, phone and laptop screens start around 400 lux and go up from there.

The moon at its brightest is about 0.5 lux, and that's at its peak... once a month (waxes and wanes obviously).

Many nightlights I've tried are at least 0.5 lux depending on distance, but are often higher (1 lux or more)

”moon at its brightest is about 0.5 lux”

Given the wonders of dark adaptation of the human eye (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptation_(eye)#Dark_adaptati...), does that really matter? In my experience, the full moon is almost bright enough to comfortably read normal black on white printed text.

Many of the mechanisms for light impacting biological functions show a clear dose-response relationship - fewer photons hitting the retina leads to less effect.

As a rough estimate, one decade (10x) of the eye’s light adaptation, at most, comes from aperture variation - the pupil expanding and contracting. The rest comes from intensity-driven modification of the sensing and image processing systems in the eye - rods that are completely saturated with signal above a few dozen lux become the primary sensors in very low light.

In other words - just because the moon provides enough light to see and even read doesn’t mean that it will cause insomnia.

Absolute quiet provided by a white-noise sound machine, plus darkness provided by blackout curtains, was/is crucial in helping my toddler get healthy, successful naps. Without them, he would not be able to sleep with the afternoon sun pouring in the window while listening to Mom and Dad putter about the house.

It does make me worry how we'll wean him off the sound machine.

I've wondered about that -- my partner and her cousin both grew up in the Midwest and need white noise and eyeshades to sleep. For reference we live in the SF Bay. I grew up here and can sleep through damn near anything. I'm curious how much of the difference is due to childhood locality vs genetics vs child-rearing practices.

Have you ever tried sleeping with eyeshades?

It has been shown[1] that even small sources of light can inhibit the secretion of melatonin (the hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm and consequently sleep).

If you use eyeshades, you might feel more rested in the morning (if your bedrooms is not already pitch black dark, that is).

As a personal anecdote, I always feel less rested when I don't use eyeshades.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3567262

> The UX is cool, but some of the UX choices are strange to me. For example, automatically dimming down when you turn the light on (you have to press the button to pause it) vs. the other way around

I own one. If the brightness is anything above the middle mark or so (which you’d want to light up a room), then the device consumes more power than the charger provides, and it dies after 2-3 hours. I believe that’s why the default behavior is to start dimming the moment it is turned on.

It bothers me a bit, but I do really like the product otherwise.

That's odd—I haven't left it on long enough to notice. So they really intended this light to be used for short time intervals.

especially odd considering that those sub-$20 charging pads for phones are 10-15w which is more than plenty for a very light LED.

I don't know what these cost, the article didn't say,but I run Hue throughout my home.

If I was to take just the absolute minimum you'd require for sleep/wake, and getting to the bathroom at night;

1 bulb in a lamp in your bedroom, 1 on the landing and 1 in the bathroom, add 2 Hue motion sensors (or just one if your can live with it turning both the landing and bathroom lights on) and the hub, you're looking at 1 Hue Starter kit and 2 sensors, in an Amazon sale you could do that for around £150, or closer to £200 if not. This is for the colour and white ambiance bulbs, which do full colour and a broad spectrum of white.

Now you have your colour temps for sleep wake, as well as any colours you desire for the landing/hall and bathroom. You have hands free lighting from room to bathroom at night, and can pre configure different light temps, colours and brightness for day/night and can set sleep/wake schedules, sleep timers and various other bits (all without connecting the hub or your phone to their cloud service); if you want some physical control the battery powered dimmer switch can be had for ~£20.

I've been running this for a couple of years now since buying my new home, being able to get up in the middle of the night, hall and bathroom lights automatically turn on to a dim red I've configured for night mode, then wonder back to bed and have them turn them selves off a couple of minutes later has been priceless.

I also don't use an alarm because the bedside lamps are set for "sunrise" at my desired wake time.

The sensors also sense ambient light which you can configure the level of to not activate the lights at all if the natural light level is sufficient in the day. The sensors also hide other features accessible by the (local) API that Hue don't use yet, such as temperature and Lux amongst other things.

The Hue can also be extended almost limitlessly over time to (as I've done) cover your whole home (and outside it with their outdoor lighting).

The question now is, how close in price is that minimal scenario to what these cost Casper lights cost?

seems to be USD 99 plus tax https://casper.com/glow-light/buy/

At that link it says £90 for the one lamp.

I'd say, that price, coupled with the above features, Hue is by far the better deal.

It doesn't have fancy gyro features, but there's no reason someone can't make a ZLL (ZigBee Light Link) accessory with those if they were the killer feature.

I use flux and I know the importance of eliminating blue wavelength before bed. What I don't understand is the need to eliminate green, and this graph on your site doesn't help much in understanding that: https://i.imgur.com/fHJKxWA.png (rehosting on imgur for short URL)

I don't know what the grey area is, and there are no axis so I am unsure what this graph is even showing me. Also, wouldn't eliminating "orange" light be just as important (according to the graph you provided), since it seems to follow the same path as green?

Everything else makes sense on the page, it's the graph that threw me.

In simple terms, both blue and green light contribute equally to circadian interruption.

The graph itself is a comparison of spectral power distributions among several light sources. It's basically the signature of the light source, showing relatively how much of each color is produced in comparison to all the other visible wavelengths.

The gray area is melanopic sensitivity. This is the light that the ipRGCs[0] in the eyes are sensitive to, which provide input to the circadian rhythm. The peak is approximately 480-490 nm, but the overall sensitivity covers both blue and green wavelengths.

There's a great article on the blue/green concept by Ian Ashdown [1].

If you use the f.luxometer tool [2], developed by the f.lux team, you will see that same curve.

EDIT (for clarity): In the graph you linked, ignore the color of the lines. That is just to distinguish the different light sources. Just pay attention to the intensity of the wavelengths on the x-axis. The y-axis scale is 0 to 1, as this graph is normalized, so hardly necessary to show. Let me know if I can help clarify this further!

[0] ipRGCs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intrinsically_photosensitive_r...

[1] Melanopic Green: The Other Side of Blue: https://www.ies.org/fires/melanopic-green-the-other-side-of-...

[2] f.luxometer: https://fluxometer.com/rainbow/#!id=iPad%20Pro/6500K-iPad%20...

"Orange," "green," etc. in those graphs are just different models of lightbulbs. (Maybe using patterns - dotted, dashed, etc. lines - would have been clearer than overloading color.) For colors, look at the frequencies on the X-axis.

Anyway, the trick is that photoreceptor cells are sensitive to a range of frequencies, with weights centered on a particular color, and return a single floating-point output. So your blue cones cannot distinguish bright green and dim blue - that's only calculated by taking the input of the green cones into account, too. See https://i.stack.imgur.com/5snTb.png for what each cone's sensitivity looks like (in this graph, lines are light received by each cone, and the colors are semi-meaningful). If the goal is to not stimulate the blue cones at all, you need to emit as close to pure red light as possible. The wavelength of your light as measured by the single average or dominant color isn't as interesting as the spectrum of all light it emits and how much that overlaps with blue sensitivity.

One thing to point out is that the circadian rhythm is (largely) not directly influenced by the cones or rods (to our current knowledge). It is a third set of photoreceptors, the ipRGCs, which detect blue/green light and provide input to the circadian rhythm in the pineal gland/suprachiasmatic nucleus. The gray area is the sensitivity of the ipRGCs.

Also, that's a good point about the colors vs. dotted/dashed lines. I'll look into that, thanks!

We know the ipRGCs receive cone and rod inputs and that non-melanopsin responses (from rods and cones) drive a lot of the reaction at lower light levels.

Thanks for the clarification, Michael!

> If the goal is to not stimulate the blue cones at all, you need to emit as close to pure red light as possible.

Ah, I gather this is why you use red lights at night when you don’t want to disturb your night vision as opposed to a light with any green component (yellow, orange, etc).

One thing your rods (lower light receptor cells that are more dominant 1deg+ off the exact area of gaze) have peak sensitivity at the 'green' range of the spectrum. So, green will nuke your night vision whereas red (and to a lesser extent Amber) will leave your rods dark adapted.

Is there real evidence / studies that show blue light is bad at night? I can fall asleep in minutes after using computers/phones/tv with no (aparent) issues at all. My wife and kid too.

Yep, check out a few of the studies referenced at the bottom of f.luxometer: https://fluxometer.com/rainbow/

Its possible to be comfortable with all sorts of things that aren't good for you.

I don't know anything about modulating LEDs, but could that high freq. have anything to do with the quiet but audible whine I hear when the light is on? Seems like it could be 8kish.

That's likely a singing capacitor. Lots of electronics will "sing" like this FWIW.

Could also be a transformer but since this isn't a high voltage product it's more likely some disk capacitor in the circuitry.

It could also be PWM, which is frequently used to control LED brightness.

Isnt it usually the ballasts that sing in most, if not all lights?

There isn't any ballast to speak of in essentially any LED driver topology, certainly there isn't any inductive component that is used for its reactance as part of the working principle (which is what "ballast" means).

LED driver might have some kind of LC filters on its power input for EMC reasons, but these are too small to meaningfully "sing". On the other hand it may make sense to follow the driver with some kind of reconstruction filter to remove the "high frequency" flicker, but AFAIK nobody does that because it involves costly and large-ish components with significant losses for somewhat questionable benefit.

Wouldn’t a boost converter from LiPo to voltage needed to run a string of series LEDs have an inductor? That seems a common design pattern. It’s arguably before the LED driver chip but a meaningful part of the overall design.

Indeed, the Casper uses the Ti TPS63021 boost converter, which needs an inductor (L1/L2 on the datasheet sample application). http://www.ti.com/product/TPS63021?qgpn=tps63021

> They are modulating the LEDs with PWM at a very high frequency, almost 8 kHz. That's better than most of today's smart lighting by far. There's still debate about 100% flicker actually being healthy, even at higher frequencies.

That's really quite high. 300 Hz makes stationary lights seem constant for the majority of people. Does that frequency have an impact on the total lifespan of the LEDs?

You can likely still detect much higher frequencies due to saccadic eye movements. Up to around 2-3Khz.

I'd prefer something that's too dim over something that is too bright, so maybe that's why it automatically dims when you first turn it on. (So it makes sense to me UX-wise)

When navigating to the bathroom at night the light certainly should be dim or red light only.

Is your product available in Europe?

It will be in a few months. Shoot us an email and we'll make sure you're aware of the launch:

hey AT bedtimebulb DOT com


what about placing a capacitor after PWM...

More home gadgets should be like this. No real rocket science inside, just excellent design and good implementation. Optional smart Bluetooth stuff, completely usable just with minimal buttons and gestures. Doesn’t try to take over every household task, just tries to do one thing well.

Anybody could make products like this if they just took enough time and care over it. Hardly anybody ever does. (IKEA comes to mind as another good example, and maybe Philips’ Hue lights.)

[Edit to add: I have absolutely no connection with any products or companies I’ve mentioned, in case this comes across as marketing spam! I’m just constantly frustrated at crappy and/or invasive “smart home” devices, so it’s refreshing to see somebody take what seems to me exactly the correct approach, and apparently pull it off very well.]

> Anybody could make products like this if they just took enough time and care

Name a resource more precious than time and one more scarce than care. What you're talking about is HARD to do.

Yeah, I guess it’s pretty much a “worse is better” thing. Worse products are faster to market and cheaper, so why waste time and money trying to do it “right”?

If your customer can't afford a product done "right", that is also an issue.

True, but we are also in a golden age for building things like that and accomplishing scale without a ton of money. It does take time and care, but it no longer takes a massive R&D budget.

"Care" also requires a ton of imagination to implement beautifully. Rare indeed.

>name a resource more precious than time

I'm so confused by this request.

It costs $99 dollars for a night light it better have a good design. I think I’ve spent no more than $20 on night lights that lasted a decade, maybe longer. I’m not sure I’d be able to read from it. The angle looks too low.

All that said I do want one but I won’t spend that much.

It's not really a night light. More like a before-bed and wake-up light.

While they don't publish the brightness, I asked Casper support, and they said it is about 375 lumens, which seems right anecdotally (I don't have an integrating sphere to verify). Note that you need to open the app and set "Overall Brightness" to max (just one time, not every time) to get that many lumens, otherwise, it's more like 300.

That's roughly equivalent to a 40 Watt light bulb. 100-150 lux at a usable distance (which is what this would give you) is a good setting for most people (from what I've seen). For my eyes (age 26) that's plenty to read with.

I’ll have to try it. My lamp is about a foot higher so the light can travel down to the paper while I’m sitting against my pillow. I’m not sure the globe would be able to do it without turning my book or body.

Nightlight ≠ reading lamp.

At 45 seconds you can see it’s being shown as a reading light too. Directly from Casper’s video on this page.


> Anybody could make products like this if they just took enough time and care over it.

I think that's probably true, especially considering that the light has about all the hardware of a modern smartphone inside, minus the screen.

Yes, from this teardown, the hardware is nothing special at all. It’s much less than a modern smartphone, more like a Raspberry Pi.

The flex circuits are actually pretty high-tech and not cheap nor easy to do except for PCB manufacturers that are specialized in it. This hardware is pretty impressive in my view; it's not as impressive as a modern smartphone, but it's a lot more impressive than most other consumer-grade stuff I've seen, especially because of the PCBs used here.

The big differences between this and smartphones are that smartphones use a lot more chips, most of them very high-density BGAs, and much more powerful ones (esp. the CPU), and have to worry a lot more about heat dissipation. Smartphones probably have more layers in their PCBs too, and that's expensive as well. But the PCB assemblies here I see in this teardown are not simple or cheap. Most consumer electronics try hard to minimize the number of PCBs, and to avoid any complex shapes or cutouts, and definitely try to avoid flex connectors.

Flex circuits are not that hightech nor expensive. IIRC the per square inch price of single layer kapton flex PCB is comparable to your traditional four layer FR4 board.

On the other hand large amount of cheap(-ish, as it tends to include even high-end AV receivers) tries very hard to avoid FR4 and multilayer boards in general (apparently in high enough volume making four times larger board than required and the huge setup cost for THT assembly autamation makes economic sende)

Hahaha cost effective design. There's no way in hell that thing is even remotely cheap, or optimized. Chips from TI, Tons of hand assembly, custom aluminum extrusion, seamless, no mold mark shell... This thing was not cheap. They even splurged for an ENIG finish!

That being said, it could be done for waaay less if you're willing to compromise on just a few features.

Single LED COB array at the base. Gets rid of ~7 parts (6 pcb Led array, the custom aluminum extrusion, plus all the flax flexes, plus a fair amount of hand assembly. Everything on a single PCB.

Can still do the twist dimming + everything else, the light will just have an orientation.

TI chips can be quite affordable.

TBH, 'Custom aluminum extrusion' - this is not a big deal at all. In China, the tool for this is < $1k and for what appears to be about 6 inches, perhaps its a dollar's worth a material if it was WAY overpriced, most likely less than 50 cents. And the tool will last for a long time...

Any resources on who to go to to get custom aluminum extrusion? Always assumed it was too expensive, but I was fortunately wrong!

As far as the chips go... I've had much better luck with Asian chip manufacturers -- generally about 1/3 the cost for similar parts. Most have a decent english datasheet. LCSC is a good place to find them.

We basically just looked on Alibaba for factories that could do all the metal work that we needed, sent them a quotation package, set up a tour, confirmed their ISO:9001, negotiated terms, and were off to the races. If you have a CM where everything is received for final delivery it helps as they can do your IQC so your metal supplier accountability is baked in. At least thats what has worked for us.

Can I ask what you were making?

What's said is that, to build this thing in America, it'd cost an absolute fortune because there simply aren't factories here which are really capable of making things like this in high volume cost-effectively. This reminds me of the article I read not long ago about Apple trying to build MacBooks in Texas and having all kinds of problems just finding screws for it, and having to get them from China because the local companies just couldn't do it.

I have quoted for parts in both the US and China. What I have seen is that generally, tooling is noncompetive - I got quotes for 22X the cost in the US...!

That said, the advice we got from most of the people we were quoting with was to get the tools made in China, import them to the US and produce the parts locally. We didn't end up doing that but I remember being amazed at the crazy tool quote arbitrage...

Bingo. Tooling in the US is ridiculously expensive. For other applications (tools for plastics, injection molding, thermoforming) there is often a 3-5x difference in price.

Actual processing is much less of a difference, especially at volume. So it makes sense to do tooling in China, production in the US.

ENIG is pretty standard these days and cheap in high volumes. A few cents more per board (the plating is super thin) is offset by more reliable soldering of parts like BGAs due to the superior flatness compared to cheaper HASL.

Agreed, and there are very few accelerometers/gyros available in packages that don't require ENIG for reliability as the market is driven by phone usage, it would almost definitely cost more to get an (obscure/old) accel than just use ENIG.

I agree with the rest of OPs points though, all the seperate LED boards are a bit excessive.

In many board houses Pb-free HASL costs the same as ENIG. And many board houses will try hard to convince you, that OSP is good thing (my experience is that it is not and it is total PITA, unless the board is only wave soldered) and you don't need any plating at all and if you do, ENIG is the cheapest variant.


Is there nothing that you could do better than posting comments about how much you think others are wasting their lives? Is your job really the best application of your time to help the most people?

Life is short, why spend it mad that other people like things you don't, and why spend it upset that there are people spending time on products that you don't want or think are important?

You'd probably hate me because I have most of the things you listed, and I actually think I want to pick one of these up. Sure, I could get something cheaper, but I like that it fades out, I like that it's portable, I like that I can use it to help me wake up better. And despite you and many others classifying these things as useless, the little benefits of stuff like this have added quote a lot to my personal happiness. I can adjust the temperature from the couch, I can make sure my house is locked and the temperature adjusted the other direction after I leave, I can hear announcements when a face that the system recognizes is at the front door, I can just tell the little speaker pods to adjust connected lights or temperatures or doors with my voice, etc...

On their own, none of them are super life changing, but together I am much happier because of it. I sleep better, I wake up easier, I spend less time worrying, my family is safer, and I save electricity from having lights/temp adjusted a bit more "smart" than I can do on my own.

> Life is short, why spend it mad that other people like things you don't, and why spend it upset that there are people spending time on products that you don't want or think are important?

Without a strong intention of calling out the grandparent post, probably because the people, modulated their low attention spans, the internet, and outrage culture, reinforce it. It's so repetitive. I'm genuinely a bit impressed people have the energy.

I don't hate you, but it is conspicuous consumption to the highest degree. Most of the use cases you've listed are essentially just enabling laziness, they're not actually making anything better.

I'm glad you're happier. It's a pity you couldn't be happier without over-consumerism.

> Is there really nothing more pressing in the world that we need to suck up the talents of designers and developers to make a "better nightlight"? I'll admit that it looks like a nice enough product, but nobody needs this, and I sure hope nobody thinks they do.

Do you also feel this same way about art?

I don't really care for this kind of product but I like it when thought has been put into a product and it shows. If something brings joy to the creators and or consumers I'd argue that's a good use of talent.

I have the problems you speak of and I'm glad someone is solving them with IoT lights.

I often forget to turn off my light before I leave, and I like that I can turn it off remotely or say "turn off the lights" while I'm getting dressed.

I want to wake up to light at a specific time not tied to natural sunrise, and I like that I can schedule my lights.

I have stuff on my bedside table next to my light, so I like that I can turn on my lights with my voice instead of reaching out in the dark to grope for the light switch.

The joys of being single.

> Or IoT coloured lightbulbs

I don't know if it's a _problem_, but the ability to have _bright_ white light for when I've reading, then dimmed to a warmer shade for general use, is useful. Getting the full RGB range is a fun bonus.

> they all have disgusting privacy tradeoffs nobody should be making.

Firewalled - _no_ access to the WAN, and no access to my other LAN devices (separate network, with a hole punched through to allow allow Homekit commands in (and only from my iPad)). Good enough for me.

>I don't understand products like this one. Or IoT coloured lightbulbs, or Nest thermostats, or talking speaker pods.

have you tried those things? they are fun.

I use a zigbee smart bulb as a night light for my 6 year olds room. The key things it does is use only red light at night, turn down to minimum brightness after she's already in bed and her eyes have started adjusting to the dark, and switch to a bright with blue wake up light on weekday mornings.

this is not transformative in any sense, but it certainly made evening night light discussions a lot easier. (A bright light in her room shines into my room and annoys me. But if we start out with it too dim, she's not happy. This way, we're all happy. :)

> Or IoT coloured lightbulbs

Auto-dimming lights that change to warmer, less-blue light at bed time has been awesome for me in improving my sleep hygine. Same bulbs can also auto-brighten with simlar color temperature to sunlight and is a much better wake up experience than the backup alarm on my phone.

The only downside was the price.

I love those things because they're cool. That's all the reason I need. I do care about the privacy aspect and I won't use anything that requires WAN access to work.

Totally agree with this.

Also, smart thermostats have been "meh" since Maker magazines of the 70s. It's time to put and end to it, and move on to something genuinely useful.

Does jewelry similarly enrage you?

Did anyone else notice the price has seem to have gone up $10 in the past hour?

I could've sworn when I read this initially, it was $89! I had some stuff to do so kind of filed it away to look at later and now it is selling for $99.

Also, this article seems like an advertisement/blogspam, plus with the sudden price change - I'm very suspicious.

That said, it looks like a really neat product. My daughter has sleep issues (falling asleep - staying asleep) and we've tried all sorts of different lighting to help (she can't stand full darkness) and I'm wondering if a self dimming bedtime lamp like this might help her.

> Also, this article seems like an advertisement/blogspam

It's written by Bolt, a hardware-focused VC which was founded by some pretty technical people and has a history of publishing teardowns (e.g. the Juicero one[0] which was popular here on HN a while back).

[0] https://medium.com/@BenEinstein/heres-why-juicero-s-press-is...

Casper has a history with trying to dictate the terms of viral marketing. I would be suspicious of even hacker news comments.

>In 2015, Casper CEO Philip Krim had a months-long email conversation with one of the sites’ founders, sounding like he was ready for Casper to play ball.

>“Currently you actively endorse a competing product on our review page,” Krim wrote in one email, which was made public in court filings. “What can we do to not have you endorse another product as superior to ours?”[0]


>which was founded by some pretty technical people

I've always gotten the impression that the people running Bolt are extremely inexperienced when it comes to the technical side. Their teardowns and articles are full of errors, or worse, inflammatory statements (looking at their godawful Beats (and fake beats) teardowns) that show that they don't have much practical design experience or even awareness of typical COGS for products.


You are not crazy, it was $89 this morning when I opened the page, versus the $99 it is now.

Thanks for the evidence.

I understand companies need to change their prices (we do it all the time) but they could've been more circumspect. Do it in the middle of the night on a Tuesday when no one is watching.

The product still seems very impressive - if a bit expensive.

>Do it in the middle of the night //

Lol, because computers don't archive/crawl webpages and everyone in the World is asleep at 2am CET (or whatever your/their timezone is). /amused

Eh, I don't really suspect any foul play. Maybe they cut their margins razor thin because they weren't sure of demand and this is a new market for them, all of a sudden it's selling like hotcakes and getting rave reviews, they're chewing through inventory, so they raised the price $10. It's seems plausible.

One other suspicious bit is that the article mentions that it's expensive, but strangely doesn't say what the price is. Perhaps they were told that a price change was possible, and not to list it? Not trying to be too cynical, but it did stick out to me that they omitted the price, which is something that one typically includes in a product review.

Uhm... The article is several days old... https://twitter.com/tmincey/status/1097990987849158657

> As a bedside object, I really appreciate the lack of branding and visual clutter on the device.

Oh yes! Last thing before bed I wonder “why did I just have to see the name of the manufacturer of my bathroom taps?”. They are good taps but...

This bugs me with just about everything. Manufacturers shouldn’t put visible branding on things unless that version is offered at a discount compared to the unbranded version.

Shoes are the worst. It's next to impossible to find casual shoes without logos plastered on them like you're a sponsored athlete.

AllBirds were originally designed for exactly this reason - the founders didn't like the branding on shoes

2 words, vans authentic

pisses me of so much with car parts. I don't want my floor mats to say WeatherTech on them! they are just floor mats, i don't want to know about them.

Louis Vuitton and Rolex say what?

They say 'haha people will pay loads to see our names on stuff even if there's no other discernible difference in quality! haha conspicuous consumption and class signalling are great! lol'

Rolex makes some pretty high-quality watches.

Sure, but their price is entirely about what people are willing to pay and not at all connected to the cost of production. There are some Swiss watches that take an incredible amount of work by highly skilled craftsmen to make, but that's not Rolex. They're cranking out a million watches every year thanks to automation.

> their price is entirely about what people are willing to pay and not at all connected to the cost of production

You have a source on that?

The watches are not expensive to make, they are expensive to sell. The marketing and sales costs are going to be higher than the actual manufacturing.

This is one estimate saying it's between $300 and $800:


Even if that's wrong, it's certainly under $1000. Gold ones will be higher, of course.

That makes sense if you are paying for cachet (conspicuous consumption)... And the majority of Rolex and LV buyers are.

But most brands do not carry that cachet.

Sure, I get that. They're Veblen goods.

Rolex bums me out though because I really like a few of their watches. I just can't get over having their brand name and logo appearing so many times on the watch. It feels tacky to me.

Well if money is speech their marketing departments are chatterboxes.

If by "bathroom taps" you're talking about the faucet on your bathroom sink, I don't know about yours, but most of the ones I've seen don't have highly obvious branding. Usually I'd have to bend over and look at the front of it, right above where it's mounted on the sink, to see the manufacturer logo/name, and usually it's just etched into the chrome so it's not highly contrasting anyway.

LightDims and electrical tape and other strong tapes in various colors -> better.

Making the battery removable by the user seems like a minimum effort for reducing e-waste and the battery is a common form factor (18650). Someday the path will need to move from manufacturer -> consumer -> landfill to manufacturer -> consumer -> manufacturer -> landfill where part of the device cost covers the reprocessing of materials, especially toxic materials.

That is, if the manufacturer is still in business when it's time to throw away the device.

This is one reason why the 'leasing' model for complex gadgets (like phones) appeals to me in an environmental sense. When Apple/VZW/AT&T take back a device, at least they have the resources and incentive to do something better than toss it in a landfill.

Huh? What phone manufacturer are you worried about going out of business?

> What phone manufacturer are you worried about going out of business?

Every single one of them could go out of business in the future.

It happens all the time to companies you'd think were "too big to fail":

  Montgomery Wards
  Pioneer Chicken
  Radio Shack
  Sierra Online
  Pan Am
I haven't even mentioned the number of car companies that have bit the dust, that people never thought they'd go away.

All of these can go away - and likely will go away.

It's quite possible that Google, Facebook, Amazon, and many others might go away.

I'm honestly surprised that IBM is still around. Sun Microsystems is gone (more or less - they are part of Oracle now, mainly as a name - you might know about the language they developed called "Java"); so is Silicon Graphics...

Apple of course still exists - but it wasn't that long ago that Microsoft had to pump some cash into them just to keep them going so that they wouldn't be accused of being a monopoly (or something of that nature). It's kinda funny, given where Apple is today - and where Microsoft is as well...

Yeah - any and all of these companies can go away - and in fact are likely to.

That's just the way the world is.


Agreed. Apple is doing a decent job here with its buyback and recycling program. I traded in my last laptop as part of the purchasing of my new one. The process felt "correct" because I don't know the best way to deal with this electronics waste.

Assuming your device is functional, Apple's buyback program is significantly worse than selling your device to someone that will use it.

They are buying the products to get them off the market so that people will buy more new stuff. Sure, it's better than throwing it away, but just put your device on eBay, you will get more money and also a lot more use. Apple products especially seem to last pretty long.

It's Reduce > Reuse > Recycle

Apples program falls squarely in the very last category.

I agree, however "just put your device on eBay" is really too much work for a lot of people, particular Apple users (sorry, but it's true). I sell my old stuff on Ebay a fair amount, and it really isn't that easy if you want to be successful at it: you have to take photos, look up similar auctions/items to see what it's worth, maybe copy descriptive content from other sellers, possibly edit your photos (I think eBay rejects ones from my phone because they're too large, so I have to shrink them, and so I crop them in the proceess), weigh the item, etc. It's really kind of a PITA. I haven't tried the eBay mobile app so maybe that's a bit easier.

yes, but there are some companies which would pick up the old stuff and sell it for you, taking a part of money received from sale. Maybe something like this will become even more popular. They can also employ handicaped ppl.

Yep, those are called consignment shops. I've never tried one, but it's not a bad idea in theory. But considering how little you might make from an Ebay sale for many things after Ebay and PayPal take their fees and then you pay for the usually-"free" shipping (with USPS rates already high and constantly rising, and UPS/Fedex rates even worse unless you're a big business), I do really wonder how profitable such a business would be.

There are various places to easily list and sell if you don't want to create a proper listing. Facebook, nextdoor, letItGo, and many more.

And for a phone, you are looking at $7 to ship it anywhere in the USPS and 15% fees. You will make out, much better than an apple trade in.

But then, if you want convenience, you will still make out better with something like gazelle or eBay's buyback program.

I do list stuff on Facebook Marketplace. You still have to create a "proper listing": you have to take photos, and you have to do some kind of write-up if you want to actually succeed in selling it and getting a decent price. Listings don't post themselves.

For a phone, yes, $7 or so will ship it anywhere in the US with a USPS Priority Mail small flat-rate box. But for anything larger, the costs go up; I was kinda talking about the general case of selling any of your stuff on Ebay.

I do agree you'll make out better than some trade-in program if your item is small and high-value and you're willing to put in a little bit of work to list it, take some photos, etc. But my point was that many people are too lazy to do this work, especially people who value convenience over saving money (which describes Apple users to a tee).

A quite high quality device by the looks of it, no wonder it is $90!

Interesting to see that each LED is individually dimmable when the device is not a display (the 3 LED drivers are 16 channels each, and there are 48 LEDs total). Looking at the animations on the article, you should only need 8 channels or so to get the top to bottom effect, using a higher voltage boost to get the LEDs as series strings. It's a fairly expensive LED driver to have that many of them, but I guess designing it that way adds flexibility in future. (A "flickering candle" effect maybe?).

The use of the discrete Nordic IC rather than a module definitely suggests a higher volume product to justify the cert costs, especially as the device is not pushed for space.

Finally, the power management side is also quite premium, with a high current switching battery charger. Looking at another review[1], it appears to come with a mains adaptor permenantly wired to the base, rather than use Micro USB. As the pogo pins are quite small, the mains adaptor might provide a higher voltage e.g. 12V to reduce the current through the pins, and so a more expensive switching charger is used to step this voltage down for the battery. The battery wiring appears to be doubled up as well for a higher charge current by using more connector pins, so it can probably charge quickly in 2.5 hours or so (0.5C). Surprised they didn't just use a larger connector and wiring, again this isn't a small product.

[1] https://www.macrumors.com/review/casper-glow-light/

>Interesting to see that each LED is individually dimmable when the device is not a display...

This might be a feature they ship in the future, "breathing" modes, a sort of rotating lighting pattern etc could all be shipped later.

I like the gesture-based interfaces/interactions, they seem natural and intuitive (no futzing around with buttons or an app).

- the "twist" (to adjust brightness)

- "wiggle" (for low light)

What other smart home products exist that are innovating the manual UX for objects like this?

I really like the idea of this product, if not the price.

We’ve just bought a new home and I want to achieve a minimal bedside. We’ve also got two very young children and frequently have to get up during the night. Being able to carry this to their room and sit with them while they settle down seems lovely.

I see this is controllable via an app. Does it communicate via the "cloud" or locally? (Bluetooth etc).

If it is cloud-based, what happens when the service inevitably shuts down?

Edit: Upon further reading it appears that this device has BLE. That's reassuring, at least.

I'd personally wait until they're $20 used on eBay, then attempt to reverse-enginner the protocol so it can be controlled by Python and a Linux box.

Thank you, because I assume the last step would be open sourcing it. People like you are what keep hardware going long after the original vendor abandons it or goes under.

Also, I agree on waiting for eBay, this is a nice device but I can't justify $99 for it.

It uses BLE, doesn’t have WiFi hardware for direct connection but can piggyback off the phone for firmware updates etc

A great idea from a company trying and hopefully succeeding in not being a one trick pony, or stuck on their cash cow/core business. Their strategic thinking is top notch... From the article:

"It is interesting to think about how this might work strategically for Casper’s business. People don’t buy mattresses very often, and the challenge for a company like Casper is that it spends a lot of money acquiring a customer. Once it has sold them a mattress, the relationship would be over if not for follow-on products (hence pillows, bedding, etc). By launching additional products, Casper can invite its customers to build a lasting relationship and spend more money.

For Casper, it is imperative to extend the lifetime value (LTV) of its customers by continuing to expand its product line, but why the tech complexity? Perhaps to get people on a software platform? Casper’s Chief Product Officer Jeff Chapin realistically admits “There are some people who are never going to download the app and that’s fine.”

Those gifs are some damn-good marketing! A soft dimming like that always reminds me of building a "breathing light" with an Arduino.

With something this unique, I'm certain there will be knock-offs available on Amazon by August. I wonder how Casper will take that into account.

Casper is basically a marketing company anyway, so they will probably deal with it using more marketing as well as continuing to slander other companies that they see as competitors.

Hold on. Did they just put their prices up? https://casper.com/glow-light/buy/ . It was $89 a few minutes ago now it's $99. Demand must be surging!

I don't exactly understand the use case, here. What problem does this solve? Why should I want to buy this?

Seems like Casper is stretching to find bed-related accessories, if this is what they came up with first. If anything, I'd want my sleep space to be darker when I want to sleep. As one might get with motorized blackout window shades, blinds, or curtains. As it is, I can reach the toilet perfectly fine on just starlight through windows.

And what kind of fancy expensive night light doesn't have a red/orange mode so as to not screw up one's night vision?

If you don't care about the smarts, I really want to recommend this lamp as an alternative: https://wap.taotronics.com/#/product/product_details?urlKey=...

It has no smart anything, it's just a battery powered dimmable lamp with beautiful light.

Comparison with Casper light:

- much cheaper

- has a handle that lets you hang it somewhere

- charges via micro USB

- doesn't have auto-off (will shine all night)

>doesn't have auto-off (will shine all night)

Sounds like an anti-feature to me; the last thing I want is a light that stays on all night.

What would be nice is a nightlight that can sense when I get out of bed in the middle of the night, and light up in red, so I can walk to the bathroom without running into things, and then turn off again when I get back into bed.

Yes, it's not the same target audience :)

Are you looking for something like this? https://www.amazon.com/Aiprov-Fireproof-Induction-Battery-Po...

Anyone have any others they would recommend? I’ve set my bedroom lights to automatically turn on at sunrise, realizing how much I hate the sound of an alarm clock, but the light is just instantly way too bright. Would prefer something that gradually increases in brightness over fifteen minutes.

I’ve bought a lot of Philips Hue and love them. They have a wide range of bulb types and a really good app to control them. Highly programmable and fun to play with. Worth it IMO.

This is going to sound glib, but have you tried opening the blinds? Sunrise is nice and gradual.

Sure, but in the winter sunrise is nice and gradual starting at 9:30 am. I have to be at work by 8.

Unfortunately my bedroom is on the other side of the building, so no direct sunlight.

For me, I don't need the sun on my face for it to be easier to get out of bed, outside light works just fine if there is any.

I'm also not sure how many days it would take for my body to adjust to direct sunlight and sleep through it using blankets as blockers.

The Wirecutter currently has the Philips Wake-Up Light¹ as the top choice.

¹ https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-sunrise-alarm-clock/

Aside: this is getting out of control, there were 3 closable header/footer "alerts" on that page, and one non-closable header banner to obscure the top area of the page on scrolling.

I've had an older Philips wake up alarm for maybe 7 years now. Not sure how long the new one's last, but the my old Halogen model has been used for several hours a day for 7 years without needing a bulb change.

Yes! I love my previous generation tapered conical Philips hue. Don't like the look of the new ones though, so I'm not sure what I'll do if mine bites the dust.

Seconding the Philips wake up light. They're rock solid and have a capacitive front for snooze which is nice(just wake up and tap the front face of the light to make it stop alarming for a bit).

I used some older Wifi controllable colored bulbs to create a gradual wake-up light controlled by my PC. But they're not sold anymore and in need of replacement. Thinking of going with the Philips Hue.

Philips hue have this. You can set the fade-in to be 10-30 mins

This was a fun read. I don't really 'get' the product, though. Lots of smart lightbulbs already on the market, with wakeup timer features etc. This is one you can pick up and carry around? Is that actually better?

Those pogo pins aren't going to last very long.

I think something that characterizes a lot of stereotypical hacker news comments is reductionism of a product to its feature list.

A classic one is on the Dropbox 2007 launch post (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9224).

In retrospect, some product ideas are dumb. Others are good. But because we see this kind of comment so often (really not trying to pick on you!), I wanted to point out that it might be a good habit for lots of people to notice if they are trying to describe a product by its list of features, and maybe think if that is the best way to achieve their goals.

Again, not trying to pick on you in particular, I think that habit is incredibly common for tech people in particular. And there's a lot positive to be said about that style of interaction.

No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.


There may never be a better example of "what's compelling to techies isn't necessarily what's compelling to the general public" than that one.

Yes, but CmdrTaco never claimed to be stating anything more than his personal opinion of the product. Slashdot wasn't HN, people weren't always making product-market fit predictions and discussing the financial of startups.

rise to my defense!

(Also always lost in the mythologizing of this quote is that the first version of the iPod was not good. Mechanical click wheel, mac only, it took them a revision to disprove my statement!)

It would be fair to say that misapprehension grinds my gears a bit: https://hn.algolia.com/?query=cmdrtaco+by:icebraining&type=c... :)

Since I have your attention, thanks for all the good years of Slashdot! Hope you're doing well.

I think it also explains why you see a lot of Apple hate in the tech community. It becomes a specification comparison by cost and the majority of people just don’t care about those things.

As a hardware engineer and sometimes product designer, I am interested in discussing the list of features with other people of a similar background. This isn't a review of the user experience (since I've never touched one of these lights), it's a response to a hardware teardown.

I don't think the parallel with the classic Dropbox comment is fair. I have the tech skills necessary to make an IoT flashlight, too, but doing so would probably not occur to me. I don't think such a product would necessarily fail, but it seems a bit gimmicky in that it only superficially solves problems.

That's true in a lot of cases but comparing a gadget to a service is far from being intellectually honest.

Best case scenario it becomes a hit as the philips hue, but at the end of the day it's a gadget, it's shiny, it's new, it's trendy, but it's still a gadget. Sure it fulfils some kind of weird pseudo-need but it's not going to revolutionise anything.

So? Not everything needs to be a revolution. Casper already revolutionized the mattress industry. They're merely further monetizing that success by introducing a well-designed new product, since mattress sales cycles are so long.

It's really easy to use as a light. And the UI is completely unobtrusive. My girlfriend has some smart switches in her place that are provided by her alarm system company, and the amount of work she has to do to turn off one switch is a huge inconvenience. Not to mention how unreliable the cloud service is.

It's wonderful to see a company building smart equipment that doesn't require a smartphone to operate.

Would anyone be able to recommend the opposite of this in terms of a wakeup light? The problem with lots of these bulbs is they aren't very bright and these days I live in a place that doesn't really get lots of natural light.

I recently bought the donut-shaped Phillips wake-up light and I really like it, though it is pretty expensive and not as slick as a "new tech" product like this Casper light.

My mom got me a Philips wakeup light about ten years ago. If you accidentally turn it on full when your eyes are adjusted to darkness, it's like being in the shade and suddenly getting a big mirror of sunlight beamed into your eyes. (Note that it's obviously not an issue during normal use; the brightness is the whole point and works as intended to simulate light levels of sunup in an otherwise unlit room.) I don't know any other light that gets that bright, so to sibling comments that recommend regular lights, that's definitely not what GP is asking ("lots of these bulbs is they aren't very bright" and that's already talking about wakeup lights, not just any lights).

For me personally, it made it easier to get out of bed, but it didn't make me feel more awake. It lessened the struggle, but I (not a blind test or hard data) feel like it sometimes made me feel less awake all morning. This made me pay more attention to sleeping multiples of 1.5 hours instead of just any amount, which helped a bit, and which I still do today (conversely, I haven't used the light in years, though I was recently thinking about it again).

Overall, I would recommend to try it, but it was pretty expensive so having 14 days (as one does when buying online in the EU) to return it and get your money back is recommendable as well.

Edit: this looks like a second iteration of the model I had: https://ic.tweakimg.net/ext/i/1289910640.jpeg

I wanted to start waking up very early to pursue a creative hobby before work rather than after when I'm wiped out from the day.

It actually works really well for me. I feel great in the morning and the rest of the day too. I did not have very healthy hours before, though.

HUE lights on a wake-up timer. Easy to setup, and you'll quickly have an addiction to buying HUE lights.

Wemo has a mini plug that you can use with your existing lighting. If you have Android, you can set it up so that your lights turn on when you hit "dismiss" on your phone's alarm.

Not sure about iOS.

I use the sleep cycle app linked up to my hue lights (one is just a generic GE connected light) and have it set to turn the lights on when I wake up and fade them out when I go to sleep. Sometimes they do fade out quite quickly which is annoying. Not sure what’s up with that.

Is this an ad?

Yea, pretty much. I wonder if the author was paid by Casper or they genuinely gave them free advertising. Knowing about Capser's advertising techniques, I'd guess it was the former.

I suspected bolt invests in them, but I don't see them here: https://bolt.io/portfolio ...

Author here! Not an ad at all (and Bolt isn't an investor). We just like to take apart new products and see what we can learn about them and the companies that build them.

Fair enough - the reasons for my suspicion were the absence of any negative comments, the exhaustive list of features, and the quotes from Caspar employees.

Bolt is a hardware VC, their blog is probably to support their marketing.

The review came off as genuine to me, as the author seems knowledgeable about electronics and manufacturing. It was good read. If anything, it doubles as promotion for Bolt VC.

It seems like advertising... but I've gotta give it to them, it's some damn good advertising.

I’ve seen that this is not available in the entire EU, I’ve bought a similar(under some features) product, the Xiaomi Yeelight bedside lamp but the power adapter does a pretty weird buzz sound once the lamp is turned off that I cannot stand.

Does someone knows a similar product that’s available in the EU?

Could you replace the AC Adapter with something from Amazon? I've bought universal AC Adapters (with various connectors) to replace bad adapters in the past.

The thing is that I purchased the “EU” model, I would have done what you’ve suggested if I had bought the Chinese version.

I’ll try to find something on amazon though, it literally ruins my sleep, thanks!

We used an iPad with Night Shift to accomplish a similar effect when traveling with our toddler. I wish there were a web app that let you do this in a more customizable way (starting color temp, ending color temp, starting brightness, ending brightness, fade time).

A friend of mine runs this company, similar but I think actually better for sleep/circadian rhythms: https://circadia.health/

I don't trust this company after watching Adam Ruins Everything.

Are you referring to this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvlA9UxGvSg



This looks really cool! If it becomes possible to integrate with SmartThings, I might even be interested in buying one.

I couldn’t find it anywhere, and am assuming no, but does anyone know if this has HomeKit support?

Not yet it seems

Came here for the answer to this question

Can you throw this thing away? Will it degrade in the landfill without being toxic?

No, please don't throw stuff with batteries into the landfill.

By the way, who wants to sleep close to a strong inductive charging field?

Is that a problem?

I am captivated by how they nailed a need of mine: navigating Lego at night.

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