A new London tech firm headed up by one of Britain's top industrial designers has revealed a voice-controlled ceiling light that doubles as a speaker - a device the company's founder argues has the potential to become the hub of home-management tech.
The Zuma, devised and created over three years by a multinational team working between Shoreditch and San Francisco, is the brainchild of industrial designer Morten Warren, who engineered B&W's PM1 speaker.
The device, which costs £375, contains a mini-computer and fits into a normal ceiling light socket.
It is managed via both app and voice control, and will allow users to turn their living rooms into cinema with dimmed lights and surround sound, or to bathe the room in light linked to circadian rhythms.
Future Zuma upgrades anticipated from later this year - all physically attachable or added via updates in the light's in-built computer - will include voice activated microphones, cameras and smoke detectors. Warren says the device should last a minimum of 15 years.
It is being produced by a new company of the same name - its moniker inspired by the founder’s dog -launched after Warren raised £7.5 million in seed capital from investors in Scandinavia and Silicon Valley. New hires include ex-Hive CTO, Alex Kiernan.
Warren is also the founder and CEO of Shoreditch-based Native Design, which has a turnover of around £10 million and recently helped design Ford's first prototype autonomous vehicle simulator.
The designer said he has already received enquiries about the Zuma from premium property developers, and is looking into how they could be used in care homes.
He argues that it is "future-proofed" and has the potential to become a "game-changing" hub of home-management tech. (Most security and lighting features are generally managed today via disparate apps).
Warren said: "Zuma doesn't require cables or create clutter. There are many smart products on the market today that do one thing - be that audio, or lighting or security - they don’t integrate with each other easily, if at all. Our vision is that through consolidating these core applications into a single integrated platform people can easily transform their living spaces in imaginative ways.”
He added: "A huge amount of effort has gone into future-proofing this... It has a full blown computer inside. It is eco-tech - you invest in a Zuma and it lasts for a long time."
Warren said the device "is is a genuine collaboration between Silicon Valley and Silicon Roundabout", and that he wishes British investors were as interested in putting money behind new industrial design as their European and American counterparts.