Computer lighting startup Antumbra delivers "surround sound for your eyes"

Glow device reduces contrast between computer screen, background on the fly

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Antumbra Glow

A startup called Antumbra run by 5 college students is looking to throw a little soothing light on this situation: People who hunker down in front of their computers until the wee hours, until it feels like their eyes might fall out.

Antumbra's open-source-based Glow, which launches in a limited beta of 100 $35 units on Thursday, is a small (1.5" x 1.5"x 0.5") doohickey that attaches to the back of your computer monitor via a USB port and is designed to enhance your work or gaming experience -- and lessen eye strain -- by spreading the colors from your screen onto the wall behind it in real time. The idea is to reduce the contrast in colors between the computer screen and the background area.

The company name Antumbra means "the region from which an occluding body appears entirely contained within the disc of a light source - like a solar eclipse." 

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Glow software, which works on Apple, Windows and Linux machines, can be configured by the user to adjust brightness and colors so that they are most comfortable for the individual's peripheral vision. Antumbra says the device sips just 2.2w of power.

Antumbra Glow

While Antumbra is taking aim at gamers and those who like to watch movies in the dark (not unlike the founders themselves), co-founder Nick Peretti says the ambient backlight could easily find its way into business organizations as well.

"Glow is built for those who need to get the job done and stay in the office late at night. Glow can definitely add some color to a cubical or office, and if the room is dark, will absolutely help with eyestrain," he says. "In addition, it's totally open-source, so they could be used for server/rack illumination, status indication, or just about anything a USB-controlled RGB LED could be used for."

The Boston-area Antumbra team is bootstrapping this venture for now, but is hoping to scare up funding while taking part at a Silicon Valley hackathon later this month that they qualified for by winning a regional AngleHack competition earlier this year.

The Glow product can be used with a desktop or laptop computer, though initially is better suited for desktop systems with 15- to 30-inch monitors placed 1 to 3 feet from a wall.

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