I can remember in the early 1980s my Dad was digging our garden one sunny afternoon and he found a plastic carrier bag of about thirty 100w lightbulbs that someone had dropped over the fence into his herbaceous border. We assumed that someone had stolen them from the local community centre and was hiding them in our garden with a view to retrieving them later. As a fine, law-abiding citizen my Dad reported his find to the police who told him to keep them. That bag of bulbs must have lasted us about 7 years because in those days they fitted every light in the house and they seemed to last almost indefinitely.
Fast forward 30 years and nowadays we have to decide whether we want a golf-ball bulb, a candle bulb, a GU10, an E14, an E27, a G4 or a G9; we also have to decide whether we want low energy, halogen or LCD. They come in 'large bayonet', 'small bayonet', 'large screw-in' and 'small screw-in' (to name but a few). The number of permutations is almost endless.I blame IKEA. Until IKEA came along these multiple bulb categories didn't exist, but instead of IKEA conforming and making lights that were capable of taking a 'proper bulb', we all started to accept that you need to carry a stock of 53 different sorts of spare bulb to have any chance of keeping your house illuminated. If someone was to drop a bag of 'proper bulbs' into my garden tomorrow the chances are that none of them would fit any of the fittings in my house. I've got unused lightbulbs at home that are older than my teenage children because I bought them in a bygone era, when lightbulbs were lightbulbs and 'an E14' was one of the main roads connecting Sweden to Norway. As for the longevity of today's so-called 'lightbulbs', I've lost track of the number of times that I've had to replace the modern halogen bulb in my hall light, notwithstanding the manufacturer's claim that it should last for at least 2,000 hours. I know for a fact that I replace it on average about once a month. On the basis that an average month is 728 hours long and I don’t leave my hall light on for 24 hours a day, the idea that these pale imitations of a lightbulb last for anything like 2,000 hours is just laughable.
So why the lightbulb-themed rant? Well, I mentioned my bulb-anger to a technology client of mine about 18 months ago and he said that if I'm annoyed about this problem, there must be other people who are too, which in turn led him to think that there must be an opportunity to make some money by solving the problem. I'm therefore delighted to announce that at just after midnight, in the early hours of 1 April 2014, we completed an equity investment into The Soft Lightbulb Company ('SLC'). A syndicate of VC funds from California invested just over £20m into SLC to bring to the market a new range of bulbs that:
- have not only a universally adaptable fitting ('large bayonet', 'small bayonet', 'large screw-in' and 'small screw-in');
- are made of a newly-developed, soft, translucent glass-like material that can be shaped repeatedly to suit the user's requirements; and
- contain a solar cell that generates electricity for sale to the Grid during the day so that your night-time electric lighting is effectively free.
If you need a golf-ball bulb, just roll the bulb in the palm of your hand to make a sphere; if you need to move the bulb to a candelabra just roll it into a sausage shape and away you go. It really is quite incredible and the potential is limitless.
The SoftLightBulb® website (www.softlightbulb.com) is still under construction, but if you think that SoftLightBulb® technology could enhance your product or service offering, please contact me and I can put you in touch with my client who'd be delighted to demonstrate the potential of the technology.