What if your desk lamp knew where you were at all times, and could broadcast your whereabouts to inquiring coworkers?
Strange as it may sound, that’s exactly what the Place Lamp prototype does. Created by NBBJ designer Sam Stubblefield, this elegant, cylindrical lamp connects with your smartphone and lets you set up invisible, GPS geofences around it. As a result, the glowing Wi-Fi lightbulb knows just how far away you are from it and changes color accordingly, indicating to your coworkers where they might be able to find you. Instead of having to set "out of office" memos, or ping your coworkers that you're almost there, the lamp will do the communicating for you.
For example, the lamp can be set to turn blue if you’re out of the country. It might glow orange while you’re in the office, but not at your desk. When you’re actually sitting at your desk, it functions as traditional desk lamps do: providing light for tasks.
You can also program Place Lamp to do other things: change to red when an urgent email arrives, or "wink" pink when your significant other text messages you—less annoying to both you and coworkers than a buzzing phone. It’s all automated, so instead of becoming just another device you have to pay attention to, it blends seamlessly into the environment, a piece of smart furniture that’s as poetic as it is useful. Whether you see the smart lamp concept as comforting (like a glowing Tinkerbell, kindly watching over you) or creepy (a Big Brother-like device that stalks your every move) is, of course, a matter of taste.