Under the Nobi lamp with… Bert De Haes
In our ‘Under the Nobi lamp with…’ column, Nobi likes to put all our valuable team members in the spotlight. Today Nobi proudly presents: Bert, co-founder and one of the creators of the Nobi-lamp.
What made you come up with the idea of a life-saver disguised as a lamp?
I really wanted a device that could continuously survey and assess a living environment without intruding on someone’s privacy. We briefly toyed with the idea to build smart technology into – for instance – a TV-set, because you can find one in most living rooms. Our goal was to create an instrument with the potential to save lives without looking too ‘medical’ – or like something from Star Trek. This eventually lead to Nobi, a lamp that quietly keeps a bird’s eye view on a room without the resident being aware of the hawk-eyed technology that’s doing all the work. Once we saw the proverbial light, everything just fell into place. We immediately started thinking in terms of other possible applications for a super smart monitoring and communication device that just ‘happened’ to look – and behave – like a lamp.
But a TV has a very limited perspective on a particular environment, whereas a lamp sheds a lot more light on what’s going on.
Indeed. There are several advantages to having a lamp keep an eye on any given situation. First of all, a TV could never adapt itself to someone’s behaviour – but Nobi can. As you go from lying down in a bed to coming to an upright position, Nobi will slowly start turning on the light as it assumes you are about to get up. Imagine what that means to someone who might have trouble with coordination or even suffer from cognitive issues, or have poor balance. Keep in mind that a lot of falls occur because it’s simply too dark in a room.
Secondly, Nobi’s unique perspective, the fact that it is suspended from the ceiling, allows it to gather a maximum of information. And since it’s constantly scanning and processing new data, it uses that information to make more accurate assessments of what’s going on. It can even proactively react to what might happen as a result of change in behavioural patterns. Despite all the bright minds in our team, Nobi outshines us all. Just about the only thing Nobi didn’t do, was design itself.
No, that was you, right?
All the credit for the design goes to David Dos Santos from design studio Dos Santos. I had worked with him previously on different projects, so I knew what kind of magic he had up his sleeve. But still, the challenge we presented to him, was not exactly a walk in the park. And yet he nailed it. Two design juries were convinced as well, since we recently won the German Design Award and the Henry Van de Velde award.
How did he react when you asked him to design a potential life saver and make it look like a lamp?
Luckily, David is an extremely creative person who enjoys a challenge. He is also very professional so before getting started on the actual design, he and his design team did all the necessary groundwork. They visited several care facilities and spoke to the staff so they could brainstorm about possible scenarios, applications and modalities. What he eventually came up with was really astonishingly spot on. I asked David to design a lamp that would fit in every room, its appearance had to be visually pleasing and there had to be an element of softness to it. He outshined my highest expectations.
Did the first prototype look anything like what we see now?
Yes, it was more or less exactly what he had in mind. To use Stijn’s (Verrept) words: ‘The first prototype was so good it could immediately be used as our demonstration model. It met all our requirements. The real functionalities and hardware still needed to be built in, but the design was so perfect that it allowed the entire project to gain momentum.’
When someone like Stijn – a notorious perfectionist and co-CEO of an ambitious scale-up keyed in on improving lives – gives you his seal of approval, you know you’re on the right track.
Do you see Nobi as your brainchild?
To some degree, yes. But a child needs a family. Nobi is all about applying state-of-the-art technology towards improving the life(style) of our loved ones. I’m not the enlightened one who puts together the bits and bites, my focus is very much on all the people we can potentially save with Nobi. My parents for instance. For now, they still live happy, independent and healthy lives, but at some point that might change. I was blessed with a happy childhood, but at some point the roles with our parents are reversed and it becomes our responsibility to take care of them. Fortunately we live in a time that allows us to apply cutting-edge technology to returning the favour. Nobi makes sure that the torch that is passed on by our parents and grandparents, remains alight. We keep our loved ones safe by watching out for them, it’s that simple.
Shine your light on the rest of our team!
Under the Nobi lamp with… Bert De Haes
Bert, co-founder of Nobi
Under the Nobi lamp with… Niels Avonds
Niels, head of software at Nobi