Modular magnetic system works as flashlight, headlamp, lantern, work light ...
Between flashlights of various sizes and strengths, lanterns, keychain lights, headlamps and the myriad other portable lighting solutions available, it's not uncommon to find yourself with a collection of battery-powered lights that could stock the lighting department of a hardware or sporting good store. Startup 33 Parallel is trying to help cut the clutter with its new Portable Adaptive Lighting (PAL), a modular system that pairs a single light head with various body types, from a flashlight handle, to a headband, to a bike mount and more.
While different styles and sizes of lights definitely serve different purposes, it's easy to go from owning useful lights for specific tasks you perform regularly to owning a bunch of specialty lights you don't really need and/or a surplus of redundant solutions. The outdoorsy minds behind 33 Parallel encountered this type of problem themselves and decided to do something about it.
"All personal lighting products are different – different brands, different battery sizes, different applications ... and since we all have different needs, we found ourselves with an unnecessary number of personal lighting products," the company explains. "We were frustrated, and we couldn't find a solution that would provide us with reliable access to light in all conditions, so we set out to develop the perfect light for every application."
It's not an entirely original idea, as the market is home to more than a couple of other multifunctional lighting products. Lantern-flashlights and lantern-headlamps are two categories that have seen some attention in recent years, and some of those, like the Bosavi headlamp and simply-named Lantern, also include bike mounts. One of our favorite multifunctional lights, which we've spent some time using, the Light & Motion Solite uses a compact battery and lighting head to quickly transform between headlamp, flashlight, bike light and helmet light.
But 33 Parallel is attempting to take multipurpose lighting a step further, developing a more robust and easy-to-use ecosystem. And it looks like it's come up with a super-versatile lighting solution for home, work and play.
The foundation of the PAL system is a simple LED cube with integrated battery. Though it's small at 2 x 2 x 1.2 in (5 x 5 x 3 cm), the light replaces the single button of other flashlights and headlamps with four tactile buttons for individually controlling on/off power, brightness, flood/spot modes, and SOS activation. This four-button layout is designed to make for quicker, more intuitive control as compared to cycling through all those options with a button or two.
While we're sure the PAL base unit can fill some roles on its own, the need for a pocket-sized LED cube will likely be limited. So 33 Parallel has developed a series of accessories designed to transform this basic light head into more familiar lighting tools. It's already developed a flashlight handle with integrated life-extending battery, a bike mount and a headlamp strap.
To make it extra easy to switch the head between all accessories, the PAL uses magnetic-assisted mounting hardware that lets you simply twist the light into place with one hand. The opposing magnetic poles essentially do the work for you, rotating the light head's tongues into locked position inside the accessory mounting slots. These tongues also include the electrical contacts for the wall charger and for accessories that have life-boosting batteries, like the flashlight handle.
The PAL appears to be a very slick system, and assuming 33 Parallel is successful in bringing it to market, it should only get better with age. Other compatible accessories in the works include an articulating work light arm and a lantern with foldable legs/handles. It's not hard to quickly brainstorm other ideas – maybe a tent light hanger/mount, a desk lamp stand, a universal magnetic mount, or a multi-light bike mount for increasing output. The PAL won't necessarily replace every light in your collection, but it should certainly cut down on excess and make packing multiple lighting types for camping trips a little easier.
As for the nuts and bolts, the PAL's three Cree XP-L LEDs offer up to 350 lumens via three brightness settings. In addition to the wall charger, the light's battery can be charged via an included USB cable. The flashlight handle's lithium-ion battery also charges the PAL light's battery, effectively doubling the PAL's runtime while also providing the option of external gadget charging. The PAL holds up to moisture with an IPX6 design.
33 Parallel is trying to raise funding via Kickstarter to get the PAL system to market, offering various kits through its campaign. The most basic kit includes the PAL light head, wall charger and USB charging cable, but no accessory mounts, at the US$89 pledge level. The individual bike and headlamp kits slide in at the $99 level, and the flashlight kit comes in at $109. The all-inclusive "everything pack," with PAL, charing hardware, and all three accessory mounts, lists in at the $139 level. If all runs according to plan, 33 Parallel will begin shipping backer units in September 2018.
Source: 33 Parallel