Nanoleaf Aurora: Smart lighting for the nerd set

It's way cool and integrates with Alexa and Siri but getting it past your non-nerd significant other might be tricky.

You’re going to put that in your office, aren’t you?” So quoth my beloved when I assembled and fired up the Nanoleaf Aurora lighting system in our living room. I understood her point. As lighting solutions go, the Nanoleaf Aurora isn’t exactly subtle in design and in operation as colors flow and change across the various panels it can be a little, well, dominating. That said, speaking as a card-carrying nerd, I love it! Check it out:

As you can see, the Nanoleaf Aurora could be part of the set of “Lost in Space”, so unless your house looks like something from the Jetsons, you may find you have a stylistic conflict (and possibly significant other conflict) to deal with. 

The starter kit consists of a set of nine lightweight, equilateral triangles (each side is 24cm long) that lock together with a controller module attached to any one of the connected panels. Here’s the specs:

  • Luminous Flux: 100 Lm (per panel)
  • Color Temperature: 1200K – 6500K
  • Max Power per Panel: 2W
  • Max Power Supply Power: 60W
  • Max Panels per PSU: 30
  • Dimmable: Yes (via App or Voice Control)
  • Control Framework: Apple HomeKit, Android, Amazon Alexa
  • Color Rendering Index (CRI): 80
  • Power Factor: 0.7
  • Voltage: 100vac – 240vac (universal)
  • Color Channel Configuration: RGBW
  • Communication Protocol: WiFi (2.4GHz b/g)
  • Lifetime: 25,000 Hours
  • Max Colors: 16.7 million

With all nine panels on at full brightness the light output is roughly equivalent to an 80-Watt incandescent bulb for just 18 Watts. Setting up the Nanoleaf Aurora is really easy:

I’ve been a big fan of “smart” lighting ever since I tested the Philips Hue system a couple of years ago. Since then I’ve purchased Hue bulbs for pretty much every room in our house and I love the results; not only can the mood of the house be designed, the Hue system isn’t a “closed” lighting solution because it isn’t based only on control via Bluetooth (and therefore tied to a smartphone running iOS or Android), it communicates by Wi-Fi. Not being closed means the Hue bulbs can be controlled by other services and applications such as Alexa and the same applies to the Nanoleaf Aurora system; linking it to Alexa took hardly any time at all. You simply enable the Nanoleaf Aurora skill in the Alexa app, then tell Alexa to find new devices and voila!

Later this year Nanoleaf is promising to deliver music synchronization, IFTTT support, and an open public API. There’s also the possibility that the company will produce new panels with different shapes such as hexagons and squares (they’re running a poll on their web site to see what people want).

I really like the Nanoleaf Aurora but it isn’t cheap; a starter kit with nine panels will set you back $200. Even so, the Nanoleaf Aurora gets a Gearhead rating of 5 out of 5 for sheer cool nerdiness.

I wonder if I stick it on the ceiling in the hallway whether she'll object?

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