Photo of the day – Under the Glow dome

photo of the day

Today’s Photo of the Day is from the Dutch city of Eindhoven, where the GLOW festival of light is going on now through Saturday. Eindhoven is the hometown of electronics company Philips, made a multinational brand by Anton Philips who is the subject of the sculpture here. Each year, the town hosts a forum of light-based art and architecture installations, performances and events; in 2011, the theme is illusion and reality. Mr. Philips is standing under a dome of 30,000 lights, over 80 feet high, illuminating the entire square outside the main train station. Flickr user toffiloff captured a great perspective, making the sculpture and light installation even more impressive.

Send us your favorite festival photos for a future Photo of the Day by adding them to the Gadling Flickr pool.

The Domesday project – or how we did computer mapping in 1986

When Google launched its Street View map service in 2007, viewing maps as we knew it changed forever. The foundation for a lot of the thinking behind this handy tool was actually laid back in 1984 when the BBC, Acorn Computers, Logica and Philips teamed up to create the Domesday project.

The Domesday project was an ambitious idea, designed to create a computer based survey of the United Kingdom, using their 1981 census, maps, color photos and video – long before anyone had heard of the term “multimedia”.

In total, over one million people participated in creating the content. To browse the country, you accessed data off a Laserdisc, quite revolutionary for the time, especially since it stored a whopping 300MB – a lot of data when the average hard disk at the time was no larger than 20MB.

Controlling the Domesday system was done with a trackball, and users could select portions of the country, view photos and load video segments. The video even included some virtual reality features, another phrase nobody was using at the time, and long before virtual reality became a common term thanks to the 1992 movie “The Lawnmower Man”. Unlike current online mapping tools, the Domesday Project only displayed a couple of photos per mapped grid of the UK, but it was still more than anything anyone had ever done before.

But perhaps the most interesting part of the whole project is that it shows how vulnerable our data can be – in 2002, fears arose about the future of the Domesday Laserdiscs, and a project was started to transfer the content to a more reliable storage medium.

As fascinating overview of the technology and its challenges can be found here.

[Photo from Flickr/ljw]

Daily deal – Philips noise canceling headphones for $7

Forget those $300 noise canceling headphones – adding a little peace and quiet does not come any cheaper than these $7 Philips noise canceling headphones.

They are currently on sale at Amazon.com through a third party seller, and can be yours for $6.99 plus $5.99 shipping.

The inventory is very low, and at the moment only 3 are left in stock, with more on the way, so you may have to wait a little to actually get your hands on them, but at a price this low, I don’t think you’ll be complaining. If they do sell out, other Amazon retailers can help you out, but you’ll pay about $4 more.

Reviews on them are generally good, plus the package comes with an airline audio adapter, which you may need on some older airlines.

Update: The $7 version did indeed sell out, the current seller is offering them for $10.68 with $6 shipping, still very cheap!

Product review – Philips goLITE BLU light therapy device

In this product review, I’m going to introduce you to the Philips goLITE BLU light therapy device.

The goLITE is a portable bluewave light, designed to reduce the impact of seasonal affective disorder, or other disorders where your bodies clock is messed up, including jetlag.

I first became interested in the technology behind these devices when I picked one up at a Costco several years ago. Being the geek I am, anything with lights and buttons that claims to help make me feel better is always worth trying.

Thankfully, the positive effects of blue light treatment are not just another wacky technology sold in infomercials at 3am. The effects have been studied by the Mayo clinic, Nasa and the US National Institute of Health.

Subjecting yourself to blue light, stimulates your brain to create more Serotonin, which is what researchers believe to be the key to reducing winter blues and other mood and energy problems.

The blue light also suppresses the creation of Melatonin, which is responsible for our hibernation patterns.

Finally, researchers have also concluded that the blue light can help reset our circadian rhythm, which is particularly helpful if you are trying to reduce the impact of jetlag.
My first blue light device was from Apollo Health, and their products were apparently so impressive that electronics conglomerate Philips purchased the company. To me, the support from a large company like Philips also helps reinforce the claims made of how blue light can help you.

Let’s move on to the device itself – The new goLITE BLU is a small 5.5″x5.5″, 1 pound device with up to 10,000 lux of blue light. The device is powered by an internal rechargeable battery and has an LCD screen with touch sensitive controls.

The goLITE has a small removable stand on the back, which is held in place by a magnet. When you want to use the device, you simply place the stand in a small hole in the back.

The touch sensitive controls regulate the brightness in 4 steps, adjust the light therapy duration, and allow you to set the time.

One of the most interesting features for travelers, is the ability to wake to light. Imagine waking up in your hotel room to soothing blue light, instead of the roar of the wood grain hotel alarm clock. Of course, if light is not enough to wake you, you can also enable a soothing chime on the unit.

The goLITE comes with a nice carrying case, so it makes the perfect travel alarm clock. The internal battery should last for 4-5 treatment sessions of light therapy.

Of course, the big question is whether the goLITE BLU actually works. Since I am often stuck in my office for days at a time, and have to suffer through the 6 month winter of the Midwest, I’m happy to report that I often did see quite an improvement in my mood, especially on dull and dark days.

I’ve also packed my blue light in my luggage for long haul trips, and brief treatments of the light really did make the impact of jetlag go away quicker. If you want to learn more about the process of reducing the impact of jetlag using the goLITE, you can read the tips on page 16 of the user guide (PDF link!)

It could be the geek in me that responds well to gadgets, but I honestly believe the technology behind the product works as advertised.

The Philips goLITE BLU costs $279, and comes with a full 30 day guarantee, which should be long enough to see how well you respond to the product. The unit comes complete with a protective carrying case and a US charger. An international charger kit is available from Philips for $15.