The BrightYolk might have a terrible name, and the product description might read like a recursive joke, but it’s probably the most sensible invention you’ll see the year. The BrightYolk is an LED lightbulb with its own changeable internal lightbulb.
A regular LED lightbulb might last for long enough for you to become a Gladwellian Outlier twice over, but once it’s dead, it’s dead, and you have to toss away the whole life-support unit that surrounds the tiny LED along with the LED itself. The BrightYolk, on the other hand, can be opened up like a flashlight, giving access to a much smaller "power module" that can be swapped out when the original expires. This way, you waste less plastic and fewer electronic components—assuming, that is, that the modular design doesn’t use more plastic to begin with, like a phone with a removable battery.
The BrightYolk bulb is currently being hawked on Kickstarter, at a reasonable $36 for three bulbs and six spare modules. The inclusion of spares might be an important point: if a normal lightbulb (LED, halogen, incandescent, or anything else) dies, then you never have to worry that its replacement will fit your lamp socket. Bulb fittings are pretty universal. When your BrightYolk bulb finally shines its last, you’re stuck searching for a proprietary module to fix it.
And that’s a real concern for a Kickstarter-funded product, which also has a website that looks decidedly unfinished. I also emailed BrightYolk’s crowdfunding manager with several questions about the product and got no reply.
Which is a shame, because I wanted to know why other manufacturers aren’t using the same modular design. Most likely it is more expensive to make a bulb with a swappable core, and us consumers are so used to buying a whole new lightbulb when the old one winks out that we’re unlikely to change our habits. After all, LED bulbs are already green, right?
Than again, maybe this is all moot, and we will end up back (almost) where we started, with the incandescent bulb MIT is developing that’s as efficient as an LED.
Have something to say about this article? You can email us and let us know. If it's interesting and thoughtful, we may publish your response.