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Technology & Innovation

Inflatable Solar-Powered Lamp Brings Light To Dark Places

Close to one-fifth of the world has no access to a power grid, and for many others, access is spotty and inconsistent. A New York startup now offers an affordable, lightweight solution.

What’s the Latest Development?

Now available for $15.99 at New York-based startup MPowerd’s Web site is Luci, a four-ounce lamp that consists of a solar panel, a lithium-ion battery, and a ring of LED lights all encased in a flexible container. After the battery is charged, the lamp can be turned on simply by blowing into a valve at the top. When Luci is fully inflated, the light that’s created is equivalent to that produced by a 60-watt bulb. Squishing the container concentrates the light so that the lamp works more like a flashlight. It’s quite tough, and can even withstand rain.

What’s the Big Idea?

Although MPowerd hopes that Luci will be popular in the US and other developed nations, it created its lamp primarily to address the needs of the less fortunate: According to the International Energy Agency, 1.3 billion people on Earth have no access to a power grid. The company is currently in talks with various international aid organizations, but for the average customer they also offer a buy one/give one program, allowing them to send lamps to areas in need. Future versions of Luci may have cell phone chargers and even wi-fi hotspots.

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