A naked flame may be dangerous in the wrong hands but it can also be beautiful and calming, a giver of heat and light, and the perfect mood setter for a quiet evening in. Candles offer an easy and relatively safe way of experiencing a continuous naked flame, it's just a shame you have to light them and extinguish them, and that they cannot be dimmed as you would an electric light bulb. Or perhaps they can.
Switch Candle by Zelf Koelman is an innovative attempt at adding the usability and versatility of electric lights to candles, specifically tealights. The product makes it possible to control the amount of light being produced, and for the lover of candles to never have to go to the trouble of lighting or extinguishing one for themselves ever again.
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Koelman created Switch Candle during an exchange semester at Carnegie Mellon University. His brief was to design and make a lamp in under five weeks. Switch Candle was born from the idea that we have lost our perspective on how much energy it requires to keep our homes lit up, with the invention of electric light sources breaking the connection we once had with natural light sources.
While some would argue that the device is nothing more than a novelty, Koelman explains that his creation is intended to help "create awareness about how we perceive artificial light, how we interact with it and how we should not forget the amount of energy light needs to shine."
Switch Candle has a number of tricks up its sleeve. If you turn the dimmer switch to the right, Switch Candle will light the candles one by one with a wand lighter that emerges from the center of the device. Turn the knob to the left and Switch Candle will extinguish the candles one by one. The order of lighting is random, but if one candle burns out, the device will detect this and light another to replace it, assuming one is available.
The device is crafted from a mixture of poplar, stainless steel, and brushed aluminum and is powered by an Arduino board sitting inside the shell, though Koelman hasn't released the code that makes it all run smoothly. This looks to be just a one-off, with no plans to produce Switch Candle for wider release. Which will be devastating for those people too lazy to light candles for themselves.
The video embedded below shows Switch Candle in action.