Flyte is a gravity-defying lightbulb that will hang in the air for 22 years. Its also completely wireless, drawing power from the charging power that it hovers above. Having smashed its Kickstarter goal – raising $617, 258 when they only asked for $80,000 – Flyte is available to buy now. But how does it work?
The short answer: magnets. The long answer: The Flyte works on the same principles as a Maglev train, with the opposing forces of magnets (built into both the bulb and the wooden base) counteracting the downward pull of gravity. Meanwhile, the magnets in the wooden block also wirelessly power the bulb. If this all sounds complicated, rest assured that setting up the Flyte is simple: gently lower the bulb over the centre of the base until you feel a slight resistance, then – hey presto – the magnets will hold it in place.
The Flyte’s bulb, on the other hand, is powered through a process called induction, wherein an electromagnet with a current flowing through it can generate a current in another body placed nearby. For instance, an induction hob in a kitchen creates an electromagnetic field which, when in contact with magnetic material like an iron pan, transfers or “induces” energy into the metal and heats food. In the case of the Flyte, the coil of magnets in the wooden base – which plugs into your mains – heats the coil in the bulb while floating in the base’s electromagnetic field.
If you think the Flyte sounds like a bright idea, be aware you would actually struggle to read by it’s light. It has a maximum brightness of 60 lumens, which is much lower than the 450 lumens given off by a standard 40W bulb. However, the bulb is built to last and will glow for 50,000 hours, which works out as 11 years if you use it for 12 hours a day, or 22 if you only use it for six hours a day.
If the fact that this thing floats in midair isn’t enough for you and you need a practical purpose to justify its £230/$350 price tag, you’ll be glad to know the wooden base also doubles as a wireless charging mat for all compatible Qi-charging smartphones.
To discover more gravity-defying tech, from a floating speakers and a carpal-tunnel fighting mouse, to a hovering side table and even a levitating bed, pick up Gadget issue 4, out now in all good shops and available to download.