When we started work on this project in 2006, almost 40 % of India lacked electricity. Add to this, many villages lacked steady power supply both during the day and at night. This meant many houses lacked light during the night. Having a lantern was no solution either. Most lanterns did not have batteries that could last the night.
At this 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, the company decided to build lighting products around this battery. In a small and very portable volume, the lantern was designed to deliver 16h of light on a single charge
We conducted several rounds of studies with users in rural and semi-urban India. through them, we learnt that most ‘emergency lanterns’ were directional. This meant that large parts of the room had low or no light. Moreover 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. Also it had to be fairly priced and compact. This meant using as less parts and material as possible.
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 could now read and do other activities together. 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. And an ambient light sensor prevents the lantern from unintentionally being switched on and squandering precious power. At only Rs 1299, this product disrupted a stagnant product category, spawning many copies of its form factor.
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