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iPhone use case #973: Bedside Lamp

A bedside lamp, yours for a fiver each, from John Lewis

I’m always on the lookout for trends arising in the mobile marketplace and this one — the bedside lamp trend — is something I’ve witnessed directly multiple times.

Don’t ask. Let me just say that before beginning the next sentence, ok? We don’t have bedside lamps. We have beautiful and no doubt expensive perfectly matched bedside cabinets, but no lamps on top of them.

Indeed, the light-switch in our place in Marlow is by the door. So when you’re in bed, well — you’re screwed. You either need to get out of bed to put on the light (and run the gauntlet of an array of items left by the baby) or you need to use your phone for light.

Which is it my wife and I both use? The phone, obviously.

Indeed, I’d go so far as to point out that one of the reasons we don’t have bedside lamps is because we have mobile phones.

In the fullness of time, I have no doubt my wife will decide to buy some suitable bedside lamps. At the moment though, she’s too busy with the baby. And I have to admit, both the feng shui and the useful application of the latest mobile technology works for me.

So in the middle of the night when the inevitable happens — when 13 month old Archie wakes up — one of us will get up. First though, my wife will usually consult the Samsung Nightvision Baby Monitor to see what level of activity is going on. This unit is pretty nifty apart from the fact that it appears to have been built on a different planet from the people who make Samsung’s glorious mobile phones. You can, I understand, make the unit function as a Skype Video instance so you can call it remotely. That would be cool. Sadly like most Samsung consumer stuff, you need a degree in nuclear physics and a Herculean-sized will to be bothered to figure out how.

The next stage in the process is the iPhone. My wife uses iPhone. (She used to use Android (T-Mobile G1) but became increasingly annoyed with the user interface.)

On the basis that she’s getting up, her iPhone goes on. She usually presses the home button to activate, not the top button. Immediately the room is bathed in a small glow of light. I myself find that light good enough for almost every in-home night time visual navigation requirement.

She’s gone one step further though.

She’s bought one of those turn-your-iPhone-flash-into-a-torch apps. It’s on the front-screen she uses it so often. And downstairs she goes with the uber-bright light guiding the way. The Apple equivalent of issuing the ‘lumos’ command (for any Harry Potter fans reading).

The developers of this particular app have sought to ‘add value’ by enabling a host of different functions next to the standard torch one. I’m not sure why they bothered. Ultimately, the only thing a torch app can do is activate the phone’s flash capability. It’s not like the app can turn the flash on 10% or 20%. It’s binary — on or off. So the developers have had to get inventive. This explains the nightclub option.

Now and again when I’ve been seeing to little Archie, my wife will pop down to check things are ok. Last night she gingerly opened the door and whispered a hello. I asked if she could find something. She put on her iPhone, found the app and tapped the ‘torch’ function. Immediately the room was transformed into an Essex nightclub without the thumping bass: She’d pressed the ‘nightclub’ option. The iPhone’s flash was pinging on-and-off what felt like 5 times a second. That’s something to avoid when the baby is just on the verge of drifting off to sleep. Torch application developers, please take note.

But to the title use case of this post: The Bedside Lamp. The other night I arrived into our bedroom to find the bed empty — my wife was seeing to the baby. I was startled to find her iPhone’s flash ‘on’. The phone was just sitting there on the bedside table with the flash shining away. The light quality was excellent. Enough that I was able to read a book (a real, paper-based one) for a few minutes before she returned to shut off the flash.

My only concern with this iPhone use case is that the flash bulb might overheat and then fail. I don’t think it’s been designed or intended for long-term use.

I wonder if we’ll see some manufacturers recognising that having a torch with you at all times (as a function of your phone) is actually one of those additions that many will be unable to live without. I know that some manufacturers used to prevent or limit developers accessing the device flash functionality because it’s been designed for a milisecond burst, not to function as a bedside lamp.

I know this, though: My wife will not move to a new phone that does not offer some kind of torch-like functionality, either natively as part of the standard setup or as a downloadable app.

I’d like to see different levels of brightness introduced. I know first and foremost, I need to be able to take a decent photo in dark surroundings, but the ability to vary the luminosity would be useful. Right now I do this myself unconsciously by either using the home screen (a little softer, as there’s more ‘dark’ areas) or the lock screen (much brighter). I’m reasonably content with this fudge.

What would be cool though is a voice-activated light function on the phone.

Just say “ON” or “light” and the phone begins to glow? Yup. That would be cool. Say “bright” and boom, the room erupts with the strength of 500 candles.

Anyway — interesting use case. Are you the same? Do you use your phone in the dark now?

Or are you still doing it the analog way with bedside lamps? 😉

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

11 replies on “iPhone use case #973: Bedside Lamp”

Widgetlocker on android puts another unlock-style slider on the lockscreen, which turns on the LED instead of unlocking the phone – nifty (the LED on the SGS2 is very bright). Not used it for anything prolonged (eg reading) but useful for quickly finding something in a dark room, or avoiding the mess on an unlit country path 😉

I use it as a light all the time, not just in bed…  Out at night walking the dog, moving through the house at night, dark restaurants trying to light up the menu (I’m getting old and my eyes just aren’t what they used to be), etc.

Hey, that brings an idea to my head.  What about an application that can read a menu and then enlarge the print so us blind old folks can actually read the thing in real time and not have to ask our mate to read the menu for us!

Excellent article and funny! The real problem here is that ONLY developers cannot create an app although they *think* they can…where are the user experience/interaction designers in your story? that’s why your frustration with the products and apps…interaction designers were not involved in the requirements and development phases…a developer is unable to create a useful and easy-to-use interaction design, never, they code ONLY.

Last night at a amateur dramatics rehearsal in the middle of a wood (don’t ask) things ran wildly over time, leaving a dozen people floundering in near-darkness. App store, ‘Nexus Tourch’ app & SEM Xperia Arc to the rescue! Was not expecting the LED, just the screen, but Je-Sus it’s bright when used as a tourch.

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