Motion-controlled flashlight pushes to be most user-friendly out there
The Darkfade looks more like an electric shaver than a typical flashlight, and that's because it's built to be unlike other flashlights out there. With a fresh shape and an easier interface for finding just the right brightness, the new torch looks to be something of a Flashlight 2.0. Hold it comfortably in your hand or clip it to your pack strap and get just the right amount of light exactly where it's needed.
Designer, maker, YouTuber and Kickstarter Giaco Di Muro created the Darkfade out of discontent with the flashlight status quo. Among his gripes was a less-than-comfortable grip position that involves constantly bending your wrist down just to point light straight ahead. A right-angle flashlight, on the other hand, ends up requiring an upward tilt of the wrist. So Di Muro found a comfortable medium, creating a 45-degree head that allows for a more ergonomic position, keeping the wrist relaxed while the beam is directed forward.
Whether or not that position proves more comfortable in the field will ultimately depend on the user and task. I can already see myself constantly fighting against pointing the flashlight like a standard torch while getting used to the alternative design – I don't find a regular straight-barrel flashlight to be particularly uncomfortable or in need of re-angling.
Darkfade does claim the position is an advantage beyond the hand, as the light will shine in your field of vision if you lay it down on a table or point down toward your hands if hung on a chest strap. But again, how helpful the angling is will depend on what exactly you're using it for.
Di Muro was also sick of the process of punching through multiple brightness settings only to end up back at the beginning having to do it all over again. So he set out to create a more intuitive, quicker-reacting brightness adjustment. Skipping over the touch panel brightness adjuster we've seen in the past, he opted for something even quicker and simpler: motion control. Users need only press down on the torch's single button and turn their wrist as if they were adjusting a physical dimmer dial, quickly brightening the beam until it looks just right. Let go of the button and it's locked in.
Di Muro aims for runtimes of 1.5 hours on max to 10+ hours on the lowest brightness level.
The Darkfade uses a beaded-face lens with a collection of more than 200 micro lenses, a design that Di Muro claims smooths out the light emitted from the Samsung LH351D LED to create a more uniform beam. The company lists a beam distance of 125 m (410 ft) and a peak intensity of 3,800 candela.
It features built-in charging hardware and a USB port for charging from virtually any USB-C cable. Rather than the specific charger some lights require, users should be able to plug it in with the phone charger they carry everywhere. The flashlight can also run directly from an external power pack. The 18650 lithium-ion battery is meant to be readily replaced with a standard 18650, and charge protection is built into the light itself.
The Darkfade torch is modular, too, using a design inspired by gun rails. So far, there are two different clips that secure to the rails, but plans call for more options in the future and the release of 3D files for makers to create their own accessories.
Di Muro is raising funding on Kickstarter now, offering the IPX8-waterproof Darkfade at pledge levels starting at €129 (approx. US$132), including worldwide shipping. If everything moves along swimmingly, the first pledgers will be lighting up the night with their Darkfade torches beginning in April 2023. The campaign has raced past its $15,000 goal, hitting nearly $140,000 in a matter of days. It has 42 days left to go.