Why you should care
Because who doesn’t want to watch movies on their bedroom ceiling?
We took an estimated 375 billion photos in 2011 alone. And what do we do with all of those photos and videos? Share them via Instagram and Facebook, naturally. But sometimes we actually look at them on the TV — and not everyone has a really big TV, or one that’s connected to the Internet. And who wants to faff about with a projector and a laptop?
A new device on the market, Beam casts the idea of a projector in a new light. Resembling a large, odd-looking lightbulb, it was actually designed to screw into any standard light fixture, and can project an 854×480 resolution image up to 120 inches in size (that’s twice as big as a 60-inch plasma TV) under optimal conditions. No unsightly power cables needed (it ships with one in case you don’t want to install it) — you just screw it in .
The device can be connected to the Internet and left plugged in all the time, and doesn’t look like a projector.
Don Molenaar and his L.A.-based team of Dutch inventors created Beam as an alternative to the “big and bulky, ugly” projectors on the market. The device can be connected to the Internet and left plugged in all the time, and because it doesn’t look like a projector, it can actually be “part of your interior,” Molenaar suggests. Of course, the quality of projection — whether for movies, games, presentations — is dependent upon the surface you’re projecting on: a kitchen counter, a bedroom ceiling, a dining room table, an office wall.
But Beam’s secret sauce is its event-based functionality, using if this, then that logic. Essentially, for every detectable event — it’s 6 a.m., you added a photo to Instagram, you came home — Beam can take an action: For example, it can start streaming Spotify or Netflix, show today’s weather forecast or stock quotes or turn on the light. (Yes, it functions as a lightbulb, too.) It works via a free app for iOS or Android, or via Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.
However, as with all connected products, security should be top-of-mind. Casey Ellis, CEO and co-founder of Bugcrowd, says that malicious apps are always a potential threat. “Automatic updates and a fast-release update cycle from the Beam maintainers will minimize this risk,” Ellis notes. That could be a problem. Molenaar says his company will be issuing updates to its custom version of Android, but not every update that Google puts out will be used. “If the next update from Google takes too much processing power away from Beam, we’re not going to do it.” Should you be concerned? Probably not. Bigger companies are often slower to respond to issues than small teams with products still in development.
Beams just closed a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $750,000 — but if you’re interested in trying out this bright idea, you can still order them. The company says that it’s on-track to deliver by November.