That seasonal sinking feeling brought on by earlier and earlier sunsets offers an organic reminder of the importance of natural light. That's something Italian inventor Diva Tommei, an expert in biology and biotechnology, can appreciate. A move from the Mediterranean sunshine of Rome to the comparatively dreary countryside of Cambridge in pursuit of a PhD inspired a search for ways to capture and better distribute the little sunlight she could find. Her quest for ways to illuminate the office where she was studying around the clock, and a bout of Seasonal Affective Disorder, led her to create Lucy, an intelligent mirror system. After a user aims the portable, spherical device, which resembles a souped-up smart vanity, it uses algorithms and smart sensors to trace the arc of the sun and reflect natural sunlight into any designated room. The simple, streamlined design belies the look of early prototypes: according to Mattia Di Stasi, the marketing officer of Solencia, the company Tommei founded to make and sell Lucy, the initial design resembled "a robot, a scary robot."
The current design, a one-foot diameter sphere, claims to be able to reflect up to 7,000 lumens of light; for comparison, a typical LED bulb puts out just 800 lumens. Not surprisingly, the Lucy system is powered by the sun. Tommei, who has run other startups in the past, first tried to sell Lucy via a crowd-funding campaign, but after it failed to hit its goal, she decided to try again and form Solencia. The device is currently available for pre-order for $199. According to Di Stasi, the company has sold hundreds via pre-order and is currently figuring out manufacturing plans.
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