LevLight: Student's floating light invention gets glowing reviews (w/ video)

Aug 01, 2012
Student’s floating light invention gets glowing international reviews
The LevLight was invented by a UQ student.

(Phys.org) -- A levitating light bulb invented by a 19-year-old student from the University of Queensland has been singled out as an exciting industry innovation by an American lighting firm.

Chris Rieger's LevLight, which hovers below a ceiling while glowing, has been viewed more than 330,000 times on You Tube, spawning features by the UK's Daily Mail and numerous international technology blogs.

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Now UQ lighting company Bulb America says they are keen to see how the innovative project might shape up for commercial production here.

Mr Rieger's device combines transfer and , a combination of the two technologies that is believed to be an industry first.

“This project came to life when I saw Jeff Lieberman's implementation of it a few months before starting my prototype,” he said.

“I was fascinated and started research on building my own, reading up on pretty much every project that included wireless power transfer or magnetic levitation.”

A second year electrical engineering student, Mr Rieger said he worked on it for about six months while studying at university.

“What I found is that there are many existing projects of both wireless power transfer or magnetic levitation, but only a few have combined both these technologies,” he said.

“Once you have both working, it's really just a matter of overlaying them. The high frequency magnetic field generated from the wireless power transfer circuit does not affect the levitation aspect of the build.”

The budding inventor has already begun work on a new and improved prototype of the LevLight, featuring a new levitator, which is designed to have greater strength and a better control system.

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User comments : 32

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antialias_physorg
3.8 / 5 (4) Aug 01, 2012
This is awesome. When can I have Dune-style floating lights in my home? I'd pay a pretty penny for it.
Satene
1.5 / 5 (8) Aug 01, 2012
IMO it's a nonsense, but I'm not quite surprised, just the formally thinking nerds like Antialias are impressed with it. For example during blackout or earthquake all lights would fall down and they could hurt people during this. A thin fiber can mimic the levitation a way reliably and safely and at longer distance.
Deathclock
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 01, 2012
Formally thinking nerd... them's fightin' words! Whoop his butt AA!
antialias_physorg
3.2 / 5 (6) Aug 01, 2012
For example during blackout or earthquake all lights would fall down and they could hurt people during this

Wow. Yes. You are right (watch out: sarcasm alert). Lights could fall down during Earthquakes. Oh, wait - lights can fall down during Earthquakes, anyhow.

Powerouts? Where the hell do you live? When is the last time you had a power out? The last one we had was decades ago. I don't expect to see more than 1-2 more in my lifetime (and I plan to live another half century or so)

When not in use I wouldn't see these things as floating. Just dock them to some permanent magnet fixture on the ceiling (think "overhead-roomba"). Actually I would also see them as toting batteries rather than having the terraherz wireles power supplies. With todays low power lights that's quite feasible. the docking station could serve as recharge station.

Satene
1 / 5 (11) Aug 01, 2012
..think "overhead-roomba"..
You've very elaborated sense for what is really important for life and what not. Just in reversed way, than me. The people like you (I know a few more of them) would spend whole life in thinking about useless abstract nonsense, while fu*ing the cold fusion and another useful research. They're attracted to absurdity and have their ignorance hardwired into their genes.
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (9) Aug 01, 2012
The people like you (I know a few more of them) would spend whole life in thinking about useless abstract nonsense, while fu*ing the cold fusion and another useful research

1) This is something a student did in his basement. So the comment about fu*king cold fusion is entirly besides the point.
2) This is an article about levitating lights. So the comment about fu*king cold fusion is entirly besides the point.
3) Not everyone is thinking 24/7 about non-functioning stuff (I'm sure you have a perpetuum mobile machine tucked away somewhere). You seem to enjoy it. Good for you. Other people seem to like to think about stuff that makes life better. Good for us.
They're attracted to absurdity and have their ignorance hardwired into their genes.

Then you must be "genetically attracted to cons like cold fusion", right? Because the kid can show his work - you can't. That's all that counts.
axemaster
4 / 5 (4) Aug 01, 2012
Sounds like a big waste of power. And what happens when the power goes out? *CRASH*

Strings were invented a long time ago. Use them people.

Oh and AA - we lose power regularly during thunderstorms. I live in Massachusetts, USA. You don't get much more in the developed world than that.
Deathclock
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 01, 2012
Like AA said, I've experienced maybe 5 power outages in my life... I'm turning 30 this year. One was the huge blackout that affected the entire east coast of the US.

I don't think this is much of a concern for most of the developed world...
antialias_physorg
3.3 / 5 (9) Aug 01, 2012
Oh and AA - we lose power regularly during thunderstorms. I live in Massachusetts, USA.

Well, I guess than that will not be a product to be sold in such a backwater country that can't get it's power grid straight. If you think that 'regularly losing power during thunderstorms' counts as living in the 'most developed country in the world' then go ahead. My definition differs a bit.

If you really want to have fallbacks you could have this stuff positioned below permanent magnets and just use the power in a coil to weaken the magnet enough so that it will not be fully attracted but will also not fall.
When the power goes out the light will just snap to the ceiling because the weakening current is missing.
dschlink
5 / 5 (1) Aug 01, 2012
I'd be much more concerned about having these in a house with kids. Once they knock it down accidentally, it will be a constant target.

I live in a major metropolitan area and brief power outages are common. The grid is constantly being worked on. Typically only a second or two, they are long enough to crash any electronics that aren't on a UPS or contain a moderate amount of reserve power.
pjvc
4.3 / 5 (4) Aug 01, 2012
IMO it's a nonsense, but I'm not quite surprised, just the formally thinking nerds like Antialias are impressed with it. For example during blackout or earthquake all lights would fall down and they could hurt people during this. A thin fiber http://www.youtub...xMLjOCgc the levitation a way reliably and safely and at longer distance.


How short-sighted are many. I bet those from the same gene pool also scoffed at discoveries such as the laser, e.g. "Who would want a thin beam of light? And monochromatic at that!".
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 01, 2012
"Who would want a thin beam of light? And monochromatic at that!".

Well, it was a result that came out, among others, Einstein's theories. And even he thought it would be no more than a scientific curiosity.
kochevnik
3 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2012
Powerouts? Where the hell do you live? When is the last time you had a power out? The last one we had was decades ago. I don't expect to see more than 1-2 more in my lifetime
In Los Angeles a Mexican connects a ground wire to a live every few years, burning out 30km or so of buried electric cable that requires a month to replace. Being without power for weeks has happened to me, in the so-called advanced USA. On average I can attest the power drops in LA on average every three months with DWP power.

In Moscow power fails perhaps yearly or less. In general power companies need batteries to hold their grid while they switch, or there will be a blackout for a few seconds every few days. I think Germany has spoiled you that way.
Vendicar_Decarian
4 / 5 (4) Aug 01, 2012
Why isn't this guy developing anti-gravity, glow in the dark condoms?

They are just as practical, and equally cool.

mrlewish
3 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2012
10,000 years from now a "new" invention comes out: I've just invented something called "string" to hold up our lights.
Oysteroid
3 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2012
Can you imagine the fun your house CAT will have with a toy like that? Swatting it with his paw all over the place... I can see it now - trying to extract that luminous thing from under the coach or from behind the wardrobe...
cdt
5 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2012
Love the invention, but even more I love hearing people's views of what counts as living in an advanced country. I lived in the US for about 28 years and in Japan for 20. In the US I experienced enough power outages that they were something to look forward to as a kid. In Japan I've experienced 2, and 1 was strictly local -- a power surge protector in the house got tripped. The other one was a scheduled outage following last year's Tohoku earthquake.

I might also just mention that in 20 years living in Japan I haven't once had to deal with a backed up toilet. I doubt they even sell plungers here -- never seen one.

All of which is to say that while the US may make some great advances, implementation doesn't seem to be high on its list of strengths, especially on a society-wide scale.
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (4) Aug 02, 2012
"I might also just mention that in 20 years living in Japan I haven't once had to deal with a backed up toilet." - Cdt

Commie.
nuge
5 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2012
Powerouts? Where the hell do you live? When is the last time you had a power out? The last one we had was decades ago. I don't expect to see more than 1-2 more in my lifetime


Not sure if you're being sarcastic or not, but actually the biggest powerout in the history of the world happened less than a week ago.

Moving on though, I think the point of this device is more for special occasions/showing off than for actual widespread practical use. Why bother wasting power levitating something when you can just hang it?
Neurons_At_Work
1 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2012
Just realized what the coolest part of this is--in the video, the guy took a standard desktop computer power supply and modified it with banana jacks to act as his shop supply. There's 12, -12, 5, -5 and 3.3 volts DC there, with fairly high current on the 5 and 12 volt line. Now THAT is resourceful--think that's my next project.
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (2) Aug 02, 2012
Not sure if you're being sarcastic or not, but actually the biggest powerout in the history of the world happened less than a week ago.

In India. Are you surprised?
Why bother wasting power levitating something when you can just hang it?

- Beacuse of having multiple light fixtures you just need one?
- Because, especially in largish structures, you wouldn't need to light the entire thing but just the part wher someone is (preferrably by having a 'personal light' follow him around?)
- Because this could be used as you personal guide through unfamiliar buildings?
- Because you'd never again have to go through a dark room to get to a light switch?

...and these are just the ones I could think of while typing this out. Gimme a few minutes and I can probably come up with half a dozen more.
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2012
Most amazing use would, of course, be in space.
There the energy needs to keep it floating would be zero, since you would just need the magentic repulsion to get it where it's going and it would stay there by itself.

Such positioning via external power source would also be useful for all kinds of things: not just lights (think maniple robots, cargo containers, etc. )
alfie_null
5 / 5 (2) Aug 02, 2012
In Los Angeles a Mexican connects a ground wire to a live every few years, burning out 30km or so of buried electric cable that requires a month to replace.

Something that's expensive to repair yet is easily accessible, speaks to me of poor design. You should be blaming your power company, not some ethnic group with which you have issues.
ForFreeMinds
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2012
This will have applications in theater or entertaining environments, but I'd rather not pay for the power to levitate a bulb: I suspect it's more than the energy to light a typical bulb. And I imagine the wireless energy transfer is also less efficient.
nuge
5 / 5 (2) Aug 02, 2012
@AA:

Not sure if you're being sarcastic or not, but actually the biggest powerout in the history of the world happened less than a week ago.

In India. Are you surprised?


The outage happen because of unusually high demand due to hot weather, not because India is somehow inferior as you implicitly assume. Why don't you have a look at this list of major outages and consider rethinking your prejudices: http://en.wikiped..._outages

Also I don't think any of the things you've listed are serious motivations to go to all the trouble of rolling out levitating light systems. I repeat what I said earlier; it is worth neither the expense nor the technical complication for large scale use. It's a party trick.

antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Aug 03, 2012
Why don't you have a look at this list of major outages and consider rethinking your prejudices:

Hmm. I just searched for 'germany' in that list and from 1965 to 2012 there was exactly one such powerout (2004). While almost every year listed has a major power-out for the US. So how exactly does this not confirm what I have been saying?
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Aug 03, 2012
It's a party trick.

No doubt. I never said that this would be efficient. But it would be absolutely awesome to have.

You have to splurge on some things in your life. OLED wallpaper displays, floating lights, directional audio speakers that only you can hear...none of these are the most efficient (or necessary) things to have. But life isn't only about what is bare-bones necessary.
sennekuyl
1 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2012
I think you underestimate the selling power of a party trick, nuge.
Shabs42
1 / 5 (2) Aug 06, 2012
The big benefit of not having a string or fiber is that this light could be mobile, following a person through a house, business, possibly even alleyways.

This is a first gen prototype / proof of concept. This will be miniaturized and made more efficient; and could be given batteries, cameras, a docking station, and who knows what other accessories and I believe it would find many real world uses. Security camera/spotlight comes to mind immediately.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 06, 2012
I think a really neat application would be on the outside of the International Space Station.

Have a camera/sensor/light package float just off the ISS without any propulsion or even energy source of its own. Have a few emitters stationed at strategic locations on the ISS to provide it with power in the THz band and strips of magnetic material installed on the outside along which it will move.

The thing could remain in space indefinitely and monitor the outside for punctures/damage.
seppuku
not rated yet Aug 06, 2012
If they could turn that into a commercial solution (and have something like 50 LED slowly floating around or orbiting around a central bulb - maybe changing colors and following the rhythm of ambient sounds or music) I would happily spend 5K$ to have that in my living room.

Better yet they could combine that with a mind control system and turn it into the best relaxation training machine.

I believe you will see these in all the big hotels / shopping malls in less than 5 years from now.
nuge
not rated yet Aug 10, 2012
I think you underestimate the selling power of a party trick, nuge.


I don't doubt that it would sell for this reason. I do doubt that it would ever be put into widespread practical use. There simply isn't any justification for it. That is all I have been trying to say.