Clara: A Lamp That You Control With Your Mind. Really.


A new tool for those who struggle with concentration and focus, Clara is a smart lamp that uses EEG technology to visualize your state of mind. Clara translates brainwaves into light and sound, giving feedback as you work. Clara interprets distraction by glowing red and humming quietly; a cool blue light and ambient music indicate clear focus. 

 

After research revealed a link between light temperature and the ability to focus, they decided to create a lamp that would illuminate more than just your space: it would reveal your level of concentration.

 

At first glance, the sleek wood and acrylic lamp does not betray its functional complexity. Designed by students Belen Tenorio (MFA Products of Design), and Josh Sucher and Marcelo Mejía A Cobo (MFA Interaction Design), Clara uses Arduino Uno in combination with existing brain-sensing technology to monitor your attention levels. The lamp is the result of “Smart Objects,” a joint course for SVA’s Products of Design and Interaction Design first-year MFA students, taught by Ted Ullrich and Pepin Gelardi, founders of the product design and engineering consultancy Tomorrow Lab.

Tasked with developing a product using memory and executive functions, the designers found a common interest in the pursuit of mindfulness and focus. After research revealed a link between light temperature and the ability to focus, they decided to create a lamp that would illuminate more than just your space: it would reveal your level of concentration.

“It started as a tool for individuals in the creative industry, to help find that state of focused flow and productivity by getting visual and auditory feedback based on brain activity. As we developed the product, it became clear that this could have practical applications for cultivating concentration for those struggling with ADD and ADHD,” says Tenorio.

The designers utilized NeuroSky MindWave Mobile, a Bluetooth-connected EEG-reading headset, to take readings of gamma and theta waves. These readings, which indicate levels of concentration, are sent wirelessly to a Bluetooth receptor in the lamp. The custom Arduino Uno code, which the designers have made available on GitHub, interprets and translates these readings into light and sound using Adafruit LED NeoPixels and Music Maker hardware.

Tenorio, Sucher, and Majía A. Cobo recently demoed their functional prototype at the NYC Media Lab Summit, and Clara has been featured on the Arduino blog and Motherboard. The designers are looking forward to continuing their collaboration to further develop Clara.