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The Nanoleaf Ivy bulb (hanging) and hub (on table) work in connection with Apple HomeKit.

Nanoleaf, the fast-growing startup from U of T Engineering alumni, launched a new product Oct. 27 tied to Apple’s HomeKit line.

“We’ve received Apple’s approval to join the HomeKit ecosystem,” said Nanoleaf spokesperson Leslie Chen.

The Nanoleaf Smarter Kit combines “the world’s most energy efficient smart bulb” and a stylish, connected hub with Apple’s Siri-enabled HomeKit, Chen said. This will allow users to wirelessly control the startup’s award-winning LED bulb designs by simply using their voice.

“With the emergence of smart home products, lighting is entering a whole new territory,” said Chen, one of a growing number of recent U of T grads recruited to Nanoleaf.

A Nanoleaf Ivy bulb“Imagine sitting in the living room and being able to control all of the lights in your home with just a few words,” she said. “Pretty revolutionary to say the least!”

Chen said the Ivy is an app-controlled bulb that users can turn on, off and dim using their Apple phone, tablet or smart watch. The Nanoleaf Smarter Kit is set for release in selected Best Buy locations in early November, she added, with more details still to come.

“Integrating technology like this, especially through a company as famed as Apple, is a great way to reach a wider audience and get access to a new market,” said Karen Sievewright, managing director of U of T’s Banting & Best Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. “It’s a smart move by Nanoleaf.”

The green tech startup founded by Engineering alumni Gimmy Chu (ElecE 0T6), Tom Rodinger (IBBME PhD 0T7) and Christian Yan (ElecE 0T6) has grown from a massively successful Kickstarter project in early 2013, based on the strength of their stylish “world’s most energy efficient” bulb, to a bustling company with approximately 40 employees spread between its Toronto and Shenzhen, China, offices.

The venture recently scored funding from ‘Asia’s richest philanthropist,’ debuted products at fairs in New York, Shanghai and Tokyo and won a reddot design award for 2015.

Chen says the next big step for Nanoleaf will be releasing a product they believe will change the way people think about lighting.

“Light is not merely illumination. Light is atmosphere, it wakes you up after a night of sleep, it keeps us safe and content, just as much today as two million years ago,” said Chu, CEO of Nanoleaf. “We want to make products that will transform simple lighting solutions into meaningful experiences.”

Nanoleaf made the announcement as U of T’s Impact Centre prepared to host a symposium celebrating the International Year of Light.

Chen says the gains of Nanoleaf rely on the team members they continue to recruit from U of T.

“The U of T presence is still very strong at Nanoleaf, and I believe it always will be,” said Chen. “When we were looking for interns to join our team, the first place we looked was at U of T.”

Watch for U of T News and Engineering News stories profiling Nanoleaf’s three undergrad interns, Jeanny Yao, Frank Gu and Josh Hwang in the coming week.

“Nanoleaf will always be very closely connected with U of T: our three founders are all alumni and without the school, they would have never met in the first place,” said Chen.

“It will always be part of our identity and I think that’s why U of T grads are a good fit for us.”

This story originally appeared on U of T News.

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Fahad Pinto
Communications & Media Relations Strategist