Kettering student’s company modernizes the lava lamp

Apr 4, 2014

Ion is a digital “mood” light that can be controlled from an Ion app (although it can also be controlled manually).

The latest product from a tech company co-founded by Kettering University student Billy Lindeman, has rethought a staple novelty item, the lava lamp. 

Lindeman, who along with business partners Eric Barch and Eric Salem, started their business (itself called lava) in 2012 have recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund their newest product, Ion.

Ion is a digital “mood” light that can be controlled from an Ion app (although it can also be controlled manually). Initially, the light has 15 “moods” or different colored lights, with plans to add more. Users can set the brightness of the light, the speed of how the light strobes and even customize how the light displays while music is played. 

Lindeman and his partners initially conceived the product when they were demonstrating another product, Ember, a device that allows users to turn their smartphone into a remote that controls lights, appliances and other electronics. They were demonstrating Ember using a color-changing LED light, and found significant interest in the lamp itself.

“A lot of people came up to us and wanted to buy the lamp,” Lindeman said in an interview with MLive.com.

That interest sparked their idea to create the Ion lamp. If they’re successfully funded on Kickstarter, Lindeman said they will use the money to finalize Ion’s firmware, build apps for iOS and Android operating systems and pay for production costs. Initially, the product will cost $199, but Lindeman hopes to eventually sell them for $99.

Lindeman, a senior Computer Science major, already has successful experience as an entrepreneur before he’s even graduated college. He credits Kettering’s co-op and experiential-based model for helping set him on that path.

“I would say the highlight of my experience at Kettering was the co-op program,” Lindeman said. “Being able to work in real companies on real projects gives you a perspective for engineering that you just don't get in a classroom. It really helps to bridge the gap between theory and how to put it to good use. I was fortunate to work at a few different companies before starting lava, and was very fortunate to be one of the few entrepreneurs at Kettering that able to use their own company for their co-op experience.”

Visit the Ion Kickstarter page for more information on the project.

The story was also recently featured by TechCrunch.