Nanoleaf is now 10 years old, and it’s marking its decade in the smart lighting business with a new product: an “ultra-black” version of its triangular Shapes light panels.
On sale now, the limited edition Nanoleaf Shapes Ultra Black Triangles Smarter Kit includes nine panels, a controller, and a power adapter for $219.99, while an Expansion pack with three additional panels runs for $69.99.
Except for one obvious difference–the color–the Shapes Ultra Black Triangles are identical to the Nanoleaf Shapes Triangles from late 2020.
The original, modular Triangles snap together with the help of small, sturdy “links” that allow the panels to communicate with each other, while detachable wall-mounting plates allow for easy installation and removal.
Once installed, the Triangles can glow in a variety of animated patterns, and they can even sync with music or the images on a PC monitor.
You can control the HomeKit-enabled panels by tapping and swiping them, while “touch actions” let you control compatible smart home devices.
The Shapes Ultra Black Panels arrive with a new “360-degree” black finish, which should make the panels contrast more with your wall when they’re not powered on. Besides the panels themselves, the included components are all-black as well, including the links, mounting plates, controller, and power supply unit.
As with the Shapes Triangles, the new Shapes Ultra Black Panels are compatible with other panels in Nanoleaf’s Shapes series, such as the Hexagons and Mini Triangles, meaning you can mix and match the various panels together.
Founded back in 2012, Nanoleaf began with a Kickstarter to fund its first product: the Nanoleaf One, billed as the world’s most energy-efficient light bulb. A second Kickstarter for the Nanoleaf Bloom, a dimmable light bulb that didn’t need a dimmer switch, followed in 2014.
Moving beyond the standard light bulb design, Nanoleaf released its first triangular Light Panels in 2016, while the first touch-sensitive Nanoleaf light, the Canvas Light Squares, arrived in 2019. The Light Panels and Canvas Light Squares were followed by the new Shapes series, starting with Hexagons, in 2020.
Last year, Nanoleaf unveiled the “wood-look” Elements panels, while the Nanoleaf Lines are smart, backlit “light lines” that splash light on the wall (or ceiling) behind them.
The next big challenge for Nanoleaf is the pending arrival of Matter, the upcoming smart home standard that will–hopefully–unite such disparate smart platforms as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and Apple’s HomeKit.
In an interview last week, Nanoleaf founder and CEO Gimmy Chu told me that the combination of Matter with Thread, the low data-rate mesh network that’s a pillar of the new standard, will allow Nanoleaf to create new products with “intelligence and automation” that can “get smart lighting to be actually smart” rather than just “a glorified remote control.”
Backed by a wide range of technology companies, including such giants as Apple, Google, Signify (owner of the Philips Hue smart lighting brand) and Samsung’s SmartThings, Matter has already been delayed twice.
That said, momentum for the standard appears to be building, and Chu wants Nanoleaf’s next major product to be built “using that standard,” which is slated to be finalized this fall.
“They’re finally agreeing on a standard, that’s huge for us in the industry,” said Chu. “I’d rather just wait so that we have that final solution, and we have a whole slew of products scheduled to come out later this year and early next year, once Matter is finally ready to go.”
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.