The design itself borrows from a Möbius strip, which by definition is “a continuous, one-sided surface formed by twisting one end of a rectangular strip through 180 degrees about the longitudinal axis of the strip and attaching this end to the other.” Got that? When you look at it, it doesn’t really remind you of a lamp, which is probably the point.
How does it work, exactly? The website lists a “Cortex-M4 microprocessor” and an advanced “MEMS sensor,” and of course it “uses algorithms to implement the whistling functionality.”
Umaña makes these lamps by hand in his San Francisco studio, and they sell for $2,300 (his website also offers some rather modern looking wristwatches that are stocked at the SFMoMA shop). According to Wired, “a composite material that has a ceramic feel and is very hard, like stone. (It’s often used for countertops.) He heats up strips of the stuff to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, then bends them into the final shape.” The process used is called thermoforming.
The strips are than attached to a cork-covered post, which contains all the electronics, including the digital mic that picks up your whistling. There’s a knob to adjust the lamp’s sensitivity — you need to crank it for rooms with poor acoustics, for example. Wired also notes that “a firmware chip hosts the algorithm Umaña wrote to analyze the mic data and detect a whistle. The circuit is very fast; there’s almost no lag between your whistle and the lamp’s reaction.”
There’s a waiting list for these, and since it’s still just January, you’ve got plenty of time to get it on your Santa wishlist for this coming Christmas!