Features | From Pivot Magazine

Can a sleek, ultra-efficient panel redefine lighting? 

LED upstart Nanoleaf is facing off against the giants with lighting that changes colour and promises to last a lifetime

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Nanoleaf canvas lighting panelsNanoleaf’s newest invention is the Canvas, which consist of wall-mounted lighting panels whose colour can be changed and customized using a smartphone (Daniel Neuhaus)

THE GAMBLE:

Toronto-based Nanoleaf claims to make the world’s most energy-efficient lighting—the LEDs in its bulbs and panels are 87 per cent more efficient than compact fluorescents and last up to 20 years. Starting at around $25, they’re also eight times the price of a regular bulb. Sure, consumers want smart technology, and the US$26-billion global lighting market is expected to double in three years. But can you build a business on a bulb that never needs to be replaced?

THE PLAN:

Nanoleaf is trying to create a niche. Rather than fight the multinationals—Philips and GE dominate the market with combined revenues of US$10 billion—the company is focusing on design and innovation. Its newest invention is the Canvas, which consist of wall-mounted lighting panels ($300 per set) whose colour can be changed and customized using a smartphone. Hospitals are using them in light-therapy treatment, but the biggest market is music lovers and video game players. The panels are touch-activated and sync to tunes and soundtracks, creating dramatic light shows as people dance or play. “We’re trying to make lighting fun,” says Leslie Chen, Nanoleaf’s manager of communications. “We want these products to help people express who they are.”

THE RESULT:

When Canvas launched late last year, it was available for sale in 40 countries through Nanoleaf’s retail partners, including Home Depot, Best Buy and Apple.com. Although exact financials are private, Nanoleaf says it’s currently earning multi-millions in revenues. In other words, the future looks glowing.