LONDON — Dr. Diva Tommei, 32, was once a Bioinformatics PhD student at Cambridge University who was spending way too much time in a dark office.
That is until she had a lightbulb moment and invented a device to redirect natural light and transform her gloomy British workspace.
“As people visited me and went into my office, they were like, ‘Wait, I need this at home,” Diva told Mashable.
After finishing her studies, Diva went back home to Rome and started designing better versions of her invention. Next, she met her cofounder, Mattia, and together they created ‘Lucy,’ a crystal-like robot that follows the sun and uses it to reflect light into your home.
‘Lucy’ has raised almost $250,000 during its Indiegogo campaign and is currently in the final prototype phase. That means that Diva and her team of 12 people are now making sure the product can be manufactured large-scale.
Here’s how ‘Lucy’ works
“Lucy is, technically, a heliostat,” Diva said. “She reflects sunlight indoors throughout the day without you ever having to do anything. She figures out how to find and track the sun, always remembering the fix point you told her to set the light.”
And she does that using a special sensor at the ‘nose’ of the weather-resistant and oh-so-sleek Italian-designed crystal ball cover, which sends light intensity readings to an algorithm.
Then, ‘Lucy’s’ motorized mirror moves in accordance to the earth’s rotation of the sun, maintaining the perfect angle of reflection.
And the most important part of all is that ‘Lucy’ is pretty autonomous. She uses the sun to power herself and can locate light no matter where you put her.
Diva says she expects to have Lucy ready for mass manufacturing soon. You can currently pre-order the robot for $199.
Living in a sustainable world
“People would be allowed to turn their lights off, for example,” Diva said in reference to Lucy’s green benefits. “And, of course, decrease their energy bills. That’s one important thing. But another one is that the carbon footprint of that family and that household goes down over time.”
But ‘Lucy’s’ possible applications, on a global level, are far more diversified. For example,more than 1.2 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity. And there are many instances where people do have access to electricity, but may not be able to afford it. So, ‘Lucy’ may be of huge use in such circumstances and could be used to light up schools, offices, homes and even outdoor public spaces.
But that’s the longterm goal, Diva says. For that to happen, the robot has to be “reduced to the bear minimum components and costs to make it affordable for emerging markets.”