In November of last year, we discovered that Google had created an AI and ML feature that automatically fixes your Google Meet video call lighting in real-time and that it had been working on several improvements to auto-exposure during meetings.
Now, it looks like before those awesome tools went live, the company envisioned, designed, and subsequently scrapped a smart light that was specifically meant to improve the work from home situation for those with poor lighting near the beginning of the global pandemic.
Google designer Ben Gold on Twitter posted a few days ago that the design was not listed as confidential and that he was allowed to share it. According to Ben, it would be called “dLight” – an adjustable, minimalistic smart lamp that could receive firmware updates over the air and had a USB-C port for “future expansion”, whatever that meant.
An interesting comparison that’s been drawn is to that of the Pixar Lamp, “Luxo”. Ben replied to one commenter’s tweet stating the dLight was as if Luxo had a baby with a ring light, which is kind of funny but does mostly match the visual he provided.
I find it fascinating that Google first experimented with an accessory or a piece of hardware before going the software route to improve work from home conditions as millions of people suddenly found themselves stuck in their houses or apartments taking Zoom and Google Meet calls all day.
Whether this was to capitalize on the opportunity to charge a little bit of money to a mass amount of people or not remains to be seen, but I believe it could have been canceled because the company probably felt it was unethical to take advantage of such a terrible social situation for monetary gain. In the end, an artificial intelligence solution won out, and it bolstered Google’s Workspace packaging – no extra hardware necessary.