Making Sleep as Cool as the Other Side of the Pillow: A Product Teardown of Casper’s Glow Light

by | Dec 13, 2019

In 2016, a college buddy of mine assembled a 5 man team of designers, business strategists, and 1 clinical psychophysiological therapist to create a smart lamp named “Luzi.”. The bedside lamp would have adjusted the lighting to match the user’s circadian rhythm, have wireless charging capability for devices, incorporate a built-in bluetooth speaker to play soothing sounds for the user to fall asleep to, and have voice control for multiple commands . This lamp looked like it was going to be the Big Dream, Small Team story we often hear so much about, but my buddy ultimately failed to reach his crowdsourcing goal. Meanwhile, mattress-chain disrupter, Casper, launched “The Glow Light” back in early 2019: a night light that you basically Bop-it to light your path and fall asleep to. It’s been on the market since February 2019 and raised its price point to $130 in April. So what gives? Well, my buddy’s small ambitious team took on too much, too soon and Casper was able to accomplish the user’s core needs. Like my friend told me, “We [were] lucky. We raised $30 million in 2 years, but most businesses don't have that couple million to burn."

So, let’s really do a product teardown of the The Glow Light, with the key points summarized by the original author, Tyler Mincey with

User Experience
Twist it, bop it, shake it - Casper provides the user a fun interface to turn on/off the device, adjust brightness, and control the timing of the light. By incorporating a gyroscope, accelerometer, a microcontroller, and ambient light sensor - it’s a crowd-pleaser for the user who is stumbling in the dark trying to find their way back to bed by pressing a large button (in order to pause the dimmer timer).

My buddy’s device wasn’t meant to be carried around, but with all the features that it was supposed to have - it makes me wonder how many buttons I would have had to press, how much I would have to talk to it, or how I was going to interact with an app just to turn on/off for me.

Encasement Design
There’s only 2 buttons on the device (each located on the top and bottom of the device), and they’re both to just pause the dimmer. The user is also able to charge the device on either end by simply placing it on the base that uses a pogo pin charger.

Mincey commented that upon inspection, there were no hotspots and the light is evenly diffused with no visible logos/markings besides the regulated FCC ID and model information on the bottom of the base. He also takes a stab that it was blow molded or rotational molded to have the sleek, cylindrical design. That’s pretty.

Upon looking at my buddy’s concept for the lamp, it too was also a cylindrical light that was meant to stay on the bedside to look what was similar to modern lamp designs. I wonder if my buddy’s device did get to market, would it have also succeeded in minimalist branding? Would his light also be able to diffuse as efficiently as the Glow Light’s, or would it have too many obnoxious LEDs for all the color combinations?

The Electronics
Once Mincey pulled off the buttons, he found two PCBs: one being the main logic board and the dome switch with the test/programming pads. The main board contained:
  • The microcontroller and Bluetooth low energy radio chip nRF52832
  • A six-axis accelerometer and gyroscope chip from ST Micro
  • A TI charger power management unit: BQ25890
  • And a TI chip for the LED Drive (TPS630201)
Then by pulling these out, Mincey was able to find the central, aluminum chassis that housed the battery inside. This chassis is literally just 6 PCBs soldered together each with 8 LEDs.

The end teardown (as seen in the picture) is very neat and cleverly compact. I keep thinking back to my buddy’s idea that his idea was trying to be everything at once, and made me think of how much more complex the Luzi would have looked on the inside given all of the added bells and whistles that he had intended.

The intricacy of minimalist design and compact engineering was a huge win for Caspser; the company is able to expand beyond just their cash-cow mattress sales. Mincey noted that people don’t buy mattresses often, so having a compatible product that extends their relationship with consumers is a smart move. I will admit that I wanted this light...until I saw the price. As I write this, the current price point is $130. I can certainly appreciate the art and engineering that went into this product, but I’ll appreciate it at afar...while I stomp around in the dark trying to get back to bed.

I think my buddy could have been successful if he was able to get to market, especially given the price point that he had priced “Luzi” at $250 for all the bells and whistles he had intended. The major problem was that he was trying to be a champion of everything at the same time in which he lost time and budget. By keeping the product simple to what consumers can find helpful immediately in the short-term, that’s why Casper’s “Glow Light” is able to be product-lead for their next, possible line of subset of sleep-aid products.
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