Amara Raja: Consumer Durables

India’s first all-around light.

The Amara Raja Tribal Lantern

When this project commenced in 2006, almost 40% of India lacked electricity. Many villages lacked a steady power supply both during the day and at night. Having a lantern was not a viable solution either since most lanterns did not have batteries that could last through the night.

At the time, Amara Raja was launching their new miniature VRLA batteries for the automotive market. They were also looking at applications for this battery outside their main market. Given that a large part of the country lacked proper electricity, they seized the opportunity and decided to build lighting products around this battery. In a small and very portable volume, the lantern was designed to deliver 16 hours of light on a single charge.

Bringing Light To Villages

We conducted several rounds of studies with users in rural and semi-urban India. Through them, we learnt that most ‘emergency lanterns’ were directional; large parts of the room were left unlit. Additionally, most people couldn’t afford more than one lighting product per house.
The writing was on the wall. We had to come up with a design that threw light all round the room. The product had to be fairly priced and compact. This meant using as few parts and as little material as possible.

Designing the Omnipresent Light

We built the lantern around a parabolic reflector. This allowed us to use only a few LEDs, to light up both the room and the ground right beside the lantern. As a result, our customers now had a multi-directional light source! The handle folds down neatly and disappears into the design. A cord winder below allows the product to be carried into the fields at night. An ambient light sensor prevents the lantern from unintentionally being switched on and squandering precious power. At an economical price, this product disrupted a stagnant product category, spawning many copies of its form factor.

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